By Jacqueline Fanchini,
A POLICE helicopter has been sent up to protect Spain’s most expensive cash crop.
The Guardia Civil chopper is keeping an eye on 9,000 hectares of mango plantations in the Axarquia, as harvesting season gets into full flow.
The measure – alongside police road checkpoints – has been introduced to prevent the growth of fruit-snatching in the region.
Local shops and markets are also party to random checks to prove that the mangoes they are selling are legitimate.
Thieves can make up to €3/kg for the crop.
The move came after farm association Asaja met with Guardia Civil, local police and the Velez-Malaga’s mayor to discuss ways to cut down on theft.
Because of the variety of mango breeds harvest season can last up until early December and the season is expected to be a bumper harvest with up to 25,000 tonnes expected.
Axarquia is one of the only places in Europe with an appropriate climate for mango farming and is the continent’s only exporter – expecting to net farmers over €20 million this year.
The crop is proving increasingly popular among farmers as they consume 30% less water than the contending avocados.