InnovAgroWoMed beneficiaries in Spain can really count on the huge potential of agroecology in their area
Organic farming in Spain is no longer a trend and is gradually becoming consolidated as an exemplary model: a fair and healthy food model. Competent for its economic, ecological and social sustainability. In Spain, in recent years, it has grown due to public demand. Moreover, in the midst of a climate emergency, it is seen as the best option for the health of people and the planet.
Less and less people have never heard of organic agriculture, and more people are increasingly able to define it. Organic farming merges traditional knowledge with scientific one. The goal is to produce quality food. The intention is to produce quality food. The organic farming systems are based more on ecosystem management than on the use of external agricultural inputs.
The regulations in Spain define organic production as "a global system of agricultural management and food production that combines the best environmental practices, a high level of biodiversity, the preservation of natural resources and production methods in accordance with preference". In this way, the agroecological model favors natural processes and substances, restricts synthetic inputs and promotes biodiversity. It also promotes soil health and fertility, water quality and contributes to mitigating the greenhouse effect, among other benefits.
Spain, Europe's leading country in terms of surface area dedicated to organic production
Spain is the European country with the most hectares dedicated to organic farming (third in the world after Australia and Argentina), but as a proportion of usable agricultural area it falls 11 places in the list. At around 10%, it is far behind Austria, with more than 25%, Estonia and Sweden, with more than 20%, or Italy, with more than 15%, according to the latest report of the Organic Agriculture Research Institute and the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements.
The ranking of the autonomous communities (regional entities in Spain) with the most organic crops is headed by Andalusia, with more than one million hectares, followed by Castile-La Mancha, with 422,864 ha, and in third place, Catalonia, with 257,000 ha. These communities account for three quarters of the total ecological surface area. Thus, 45% of the organic surface area is in Andalusia (more than one million hectares), followed by Castile-La Mancha, with just over 17% of the total area and 422,864 hectares, and Catalonia, with 10.5% of the national total and almost 257,000 hectares.
In the whole of Spain, the area devoted to organic production increased by 3.5% in 2020 compared to the previous year, reaching 2,437,891 hectares. This data confirms an average annual growth trend of 4.8% in the organic area over the last five years and already places the useful agricultural area dedicated to organic production at 10%.
These data also show the leadership of the Spanish organic sector. In fact, it is the leading European country in terms of surface area and organic production and the third in the world, behind Australia and Argentina. Along these lines, the Ministry of Agriculture stresses that Spain is in a position to meet the target set in the European Green Pact of allocating 25% of agricultural land to organic production by 2030, also in line with the current government's organic transformation agenda.
In 2020, the largest share of the eco-area corresponded to permanent pasture, with more than 1.27 million hectares, followed by permanent crops (662,423 hectares) and arable crops (502,075 hectares), according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food's study "Organic Production 2020".
The main organic crops in Spain are olive groves, cereals and vineyards
The Spanish area dedicated to organic olive groves increased by 6.4% in 2020, to 222,722 hectares, making it one of the main crops in this type of agriculture, according to data from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPA).
While annual cereal production varies between 12 and 25 million tonnes, depending on the climatic year, Spain is an importing country, as consumption of cereals, other grains and by-products is only 35 million tonnes. The Spanish state also imports protein flours (mainly soya), protein crops, oilseeds and their derivatives, mainly for the manufacture of animal feed.
And with regard to the organic cultivation of vineyards, 13% of the total area of national vineyards is already under organic production, standing at 121,279 hectares in 2019, according to the latest report published by the MAPA.
This is a small overview of the agro-ecological context in Spain, a favourable landscape for the women participating in the 'Semillas' training, carried out in the framework of the InnovAgroWomed Project. This latter supports women entrepreneurs in the agri-food sector, so that they have the skills, tools and - soon - some resources to enter the sector that turns out to have a very strong potential in Valencia, the region where the Spanish partner of the project, JOVESOLIDES works.