Friday, 12 May 2023, 09:01
If the lack of rainfall persists this month then the next olive growing season could be put at risk and Malaga province could be headed for an olive oil shortage in 2024, farmers warn.
Antonio Luque gets up every morning and looks at the sky and yearns for the heavens to open up and much-needed rain to fall.
He is the president of Dcoop, the largest olive oil cooperative in the world, and is concerned about the future of the province’s olive growing season.
"Unless between 150mm and 200mm fall in May, the next harvest could be even worse than the one we have just had,” he told SUR.
The prediction comes off the back of the worst olive crop in Malaga province in the past 20 years, but the 40,000 tonne estimate could be a good harvest compared to what is to come. If the combination of drought and high temperatures continues, the 2023-2024 olive harvest will be at risk.
Luque also raised the concern about employment in the sector, if the olive growing season was to be impacted. "If we don't have olives to crush, who works in the industry? If we don't have olive oil to bottle, what do we do with the people who bottle the oil or table olives," he said.
Without a good season, the province would see two years with very short harvests. “This year we are going to be very stretched for the demand we have. But we still had backup stock, so we have some chance of withstanding the demand,” Luque said.
President of the Campillos Cooperative, Benito Avilés, also shared the same concerns when asked about the next olive growing season.
"The blossom usually opens in mid-May. In our area, all the blossom is already open. With the little water retention that the olive tree has had, the blossom is not going to get anywhere near enough to be able to turn into fruit,” he said.
Even if a miracle happens and the province was gifted a sudden deluge of rain it will still not be enough to avoid the crisis.
"Farmers are already suffering from not having a good olive season. This time there is not going to be any product on the shelves,” he added.
"To this we have to add the increase in costs and the reduction in aid from the common agricultural policy (CAP). With all of this, more than one of us is going to go down on our knees.”
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