A third of Les Garrigues farmland is no longer cultivated
The majority of the land is dedicated to almonds and
The farmers of Les Garrigues are no longer
cultivating some 36 per cent of the available farmland according to data from
the Department of Agriculture. Les Garrigues has a total of 80,294 hectares of
cultivable land of which 28,889 are not exploited, constituting an important
factor in the increasing erosion of the soil.
One of the causes of this situation are the low profits gained
from cultivation in the unirrigated zones, a result according to the farmers, of
a difficult climate and the lack of irrigation infrastructure.
Twentyfour of the Les Garrigues municipalities have all their
land under irrigation, four have land partially irrigated, while the rest are
unirrigated. The irrigated areas are on the periphery of the region, in the
districts of Segrià, Pla d'Urgell and Urgell. In total, the region has 8,171
hectares of farmland in areas with available irrigation, with 72,121 hectares
This situation has a significant impact on the economy of the
region, where there is a strong dependency upon olive and almond cultivation -
crops that are well suited to the adverse climate.
The olive oil produced is of the best available, linked to the
fact that virtually all olive cultivation takes place in the unirrigated zones.
Faced with limited yields, farmers have specialised in the arbequina olive,
focusing on quality rather than quantity. This olive has an oil that does not
surpass 0.2 degrees of acidity, and is becoming one of the most appreciated of
the world-wide market.
The economic situation in recent years has deteriorated, with
12 million Euros wiped off the value of the olive oil harvest. In addition, the
almond crop has suffered from repeated frosts, with practically total harvest
losses. Farmers have been unable to insure against these losses.