24 Mar, 2016 @ 13:06
1 min read

Supermarkets unite to stop Spain’s strawberry fields sucking Doñana wetland dry

strawberry picking

strawberry-pickingINTERNATIONAL supermarkets are demanding urgent action to stop Spain’s strawberry growers sucking key wetland dry.

Companies including Sainsbury’s, M&S and Coca-Cola are campaigning over unsustainable water usage in Huelva and Sevilla.

The consortium of supermarkets and food companies claims current strawberry growing practices will lead to ‘severe environmental damage’ in the Doñana national park.

The group is now demanding the introduction of a land plan set out by the Junta in 2014 but yet to be implemented.

The plan includes the eradication of 1,500 hectares of unauthorised strawberry cultivation.  

“We strongly support the land use plan issued by the government of Andalucia and urge all parties involved to cooperate on its urgently needed implementation,” a group spokesman said.

“We believe that continued pressure will ultimately lead to severe environmental degradation of the ecosystem and in particular the Doñana national park, as well as to a reduction in the long-term availability of strawberries from the region.”

Environmental campaigners claim that water used by strawberry farmers has reduced the wetlands by 50% through as many as 2,000 illegal boreholes.

The European Commission is currently investigating the claims.

Spain’s strawberry industry generates around €400m a year.

Rob Horgan

DO YOU HAVE NEWS FOR US at Spain’s most popular English newspaper - the Olive Press? Contact us now via email: [email protected] or call 951 273 575. To contact the newsdesk out of regular office hours please call +34 665 798 618.


  1. First the Junta let a gold mining company build a defective holding dam for arsenic contaminated water which burst and now they let strawberry growers destroy it by taking the water and where oh where is the Eu to step in and order decisive action to stop this environmental disaster – wait a minute, the EU was created to facilitate big business and dummies want to keep this corrupt organisation alive.

    • As if Spain would pay any heed to EU directives, no matter what they said. Fact is, the corruption is closer to home, in Spain, which of course, is currently lacking any effective government.

  2. Stewart, you have not to wait for the EU.
    I personally boycott strawberries from Huelva, which are offered from Februar to April in all German supermarkets, after I have seen them being cultivated in the direct neighborhood of Huelvas rotten petroleum industry.
    If we can encourage Lidl, Aldi, Rewe, Edeka to refuse selling early strawberries from Huelva, then these farmers have soon to stop their illegal deeds for economic reasons. They do well understand that economy beats inmorality.

  3. So,
    others admit that the EU is ineffective and yet they also support the continuation of this huge waste of Europeans’ money and resources – irrational but par for the course for it’s supporters.

    Dare to win, vote Brexit

  4. The scandal about the wetlands was publicised years ago but nothing was done. So much for EU regulations. There is also the plight of the Lynx which have been decimated due to road construction etc.

  5. This article is far from being accurate, yes there are illegal wells in the northern part of the Park, and yes there are irregular farmlands. But this same reporter is praising a Golf event in the Doñana Golf Resort, is there anything less sustainable water-wise than a golf course? The Spanish Ministry of Agriculture is pointing to the irregular berry farms for depleting the water, but ALSO to the increasing demand of water from Matalascañas, moreover, its golf course.
    It is unaccurate also to pretend that reatilers such as Lidl, Aldi, Rewe, Edeka to enforce the law, or boycott Spanish berries, particularly the late-winter & spring berries from Huelva, wich are in no way forced or artificial, due to temperature and light, it is the natural season for this part of the continent. Do you know where would they supply them then? Do you need more fuel to bring the berries from furthest places? Do you want berries from gas or diesel-heated greenhouses in the north? How sustainable is that? Do you think the control of pesticides in the south of the Mediterranean is as tight as in Spain being a EU member vs. non-EU countries? Do you trust the working conditions outside the EU will be any better? And what about the taxes, buying within the EU market contributes to the whole region’s economy.
    There are more than 7 thousand hectares of strawberries in Huelva, and about 2.000 of other berries, and only 1.500 (of all berries combined) are being questioned either for their water supply or their proximity to the Park and are pretty much likely to be recovered for the park in the near future. The Junta is many years late with an irrigation infrastructure that is supposed to bring water from nearby dams and relieve farmers from drilling Doñana, but those works are not done and farmers have kept farming. Some of that land would fully comply with the law if the irrigation channels and lines have been completed. Some other farms must be restored to nature completely.
    Please note that these irregular farmlands were not set yesterday, they are between 20 and 30 years old, before all this environmental regulations were set, and hundreds of families earn their living with this activity. Repossessing the lands is a delicate operation as many of these farmers have no other source of income and the towns, municipalities and Junta have also to be part of the alternative solution for these farmers.
    My company is running a voluntary standard with more than 500 hectares of strawberry registered by farmers in Huelva who are committed to excel their social responsibility and farm their land with the tightest rationalization of inputs and fertilizers, as well as minimum or none use of pesticides, also the lands registered to the standard fully comply with the law “www.zerya.org”
    The real environmental disaster is yet to be seen, as the Spanish govt. has just approved gas drilling IN THE PARK!! Mariano Rajoy’s government is making a favor to their friends and the international community seems to be doing nothing about it.
    So before sending out such yellow press and start whining and gossiping about Huelva, please quote your sources, frame your ciphers and elaborate the history of the articles.

  6. No one needs out of season fruit. As to employment, hundreds of thousands of workers across Europe have lost their jobs so why should’nt these few hundred look for work elsewhere. Right now 40,000 jobs in the steel industry are likely to be lost in Wales and elsewhere and your talking about a few hundred.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Previous Story

Chased by men with machetes in Mexico, mugged in Peru and arrested in Iran for taking a selfie, Spaniard completes three-year walk around world

Johan Cruyff e
Next Story

Barcelona and Dutch legend Johan Cruyff dies at home in Catalunya

Latest from Business & Finance

Go toTop

More From The Olive Press