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A farmer collecting olives on a grove in Malaga. SUR
Drought crisis leads to disastrous olive harvest in Malaga province
Agriculture

Drought crisis leads to disastrous olive harvest in Malaga province

A visit to the supermarket is enough to see that the price of olive oil continues to soar. This trend will continue in the coming months and will be accentuated by a new season with very low production

Matías Stuber

Malaga

Tuesday, 2 April 2024

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"Very bad," is the response you will get from Malaga growers if you ask them about how the 2023-24 olive harvest has been. The negative outlook among olive growers in the province is also reflected in the figures.

Ministry of Agriculture data, up to 29 February, showed a total of 28,390 tonnes of olive oil was produced in the province.

Sources in the sector say the situation is now "dramatic". It seemed difficult to worsen the figures for the 2022-23 season, when oil production reached 30,000 tonnes, a figure deemed the worst of the century so far. A 'normal' harvest locally generates over 50,000 tonnes of oil.

Manuel Cebrián, president of the Mollina Cooperative, said the drought is wreaking havoc. "The season has been much worse than expected. The lack of water is affecting the trees and we can see that where there used to be three olives, now there is only one, and with fruit that has not reached the desired size," he pointed out.

The latest rains, he added, have been insufficient to reverse the situation. This also explains the downward estimates made by the Andalusian regional government at the beginning of the season. Back in October, it estimated the production of about 30,000 tonnes of oil for Malaga province.

In addition to the drought, there was also a problem with high temperatures recorded last May. "These temperatures burnt the blossom on many olive trees," Cebrián said. "And without blossom there is no fruit," he added. The next worst harvest since records began was in 2002 and 2003 - that season, oil production stood at 36,000 tonnes.

In the past three years, the 50,000-tonne barrier has always been exceeded. "These 50,000 tonnes should be normal," Cebrián pointed out. Benito Avilés, president of the Campillos Cooperative, spoke of the situation as "very complicated". According to Avilés, when it wasn't supposed to be hot, it was hot and when rain was needed, it didn't rain. "The problem is not a bad season, it is the accumulation of bad harvests," he said.

High prices

A visit to the supermarket is enough to see that the price of olive oil continues to soar. This trend will continue in the coming months and will be accentuated by a new season with very low production. On the other hand, oil production costs continue to soar. "The lowering of IVA for olive oil to 0% will be effective from April and this will help the price for the consumer," Asaja pointed out.

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