Fruit and vegetable acreage in the Community of Valencia contracted slightly in 2017 as a growing number of producers abandoned farms due to low profitability and a lack of interest from the next generation.
The latest survey from the Ministry of Agriculture shows that there were 163,478ha of barren land last year, an increase of 582ha or 0.36 per cent on 2016. Andalusia was the only other community to see a rise in abandoned farms (+0.26 per cent to 125,870ha).
Citrus, stonefruit and olives were among the biggest fallers. Plum acreage dropped 8 per cent from 1,618ha to 1,488ha, peaches fell 5.45 per cent from 5,226ha to 4,941ha and citrus acreage fell 1.23 per cent from 161,009ha to 158,859ha.
However, plantings of avocados, apricots, kiwifruit, kaki and pomegranates increased in 2017, albeit from a much lower base, as growers sought more profitable alternatives to traditional crops.
Kaki production continues to expand, showing a 2.95 per cent increase in planted area to 15,977ha. Apricot acreage also increased by 7.34 per cent to 5,156ha.
The biggest expansion was in avocados, which saw a 62 per cent rise in planted area to 750ha. Kiwifruit acreage grew 8.02 per cent to 371ha and pomegranate plantings were up 1.26 per cent to 4,774ha.
“People are abandoning farms because they are not profitable and there is little interest from the next generation,” said Cristóbal Aguado, president of agricultural union Ava-Asaja.
Aguado dismissed government policies to safeguard horticultural production in Valencia because “they fail to take into account the needs of the growers”.