The Malaga raisin, produced in the Axarquía area with muscatel grapes, was officially recognised as belonging to a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS) by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) on Thursday last week.
Rodrigo Sánchez Haro, the regional government's Agriculture minister travelled to the FAO's headquarters in Rome with a group of local Axarquía mayors and delegates to pick up the official certificate.
The Axarquía was one of two new sites in Spain selected for the award, together with the Salinas de Añana salt mine in the Basque Country. Spain was joined at the ceremony by representatives from agricultural programmes and areas in Portugal, South Korea, China, Japan, Egypt, Mexico and Sri Lanka.
The FAO's criteria for awarding this status to a particular crop or growing system include: its historic importance to the development of world agriculture; role in supporting livelihood security; biodiversity; use of know how and adapted technology; culture; and outstanding landscapes.
Speaking during the ceremony, Sánchez Haro said the certificate recognised “the environmental conservation and traditions of our area” and rewarded “the dignity and work of farmers who have managed to keep the traditions for many centuries”.
The organic cultivation of muscatel grapes in the Axarquía and the delicate process of drying them in the sun to turn them into raisins has been carried out since Phoenician times. Axarquía communities have been celebrating and this Saturday morning the village of Almáchar will be throwing a party.