Lectura

History of agriculture in Almeria

Almeria Agriculture, of interest to professional farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs from all over the world, originated in 1956. Thanks to one of the programmes promoted by the Institute for Agrarian Reform and Development (IRYDA), which the then Francoist government set up to bring life to the semi-desert lands of the southeast of the Iberian Peninsula.

The origins of Almeria’s agriculture

A few settlers settled with the determination to work tirelessly until they achieved some productivity. But they did not count on the intense radiation, the rains at that time and the wind, which did not allow them to grow their fruit and vegetables. This gave rise to the idea of covering them with small plastic tunnels. History points to Francisco Fuente, known as ‘Paco the pilot’, as the first to start experimenting with plastics, together with the agronomists Bernabé Aguilar Luque and Leandro Pérez de los Cobos.

The first attempt was blown away by the wind. They then perfected the idea by placing the plastic in the middle of two wire fabrics on an iron structure better fixed to the ground. The agricultural miracle occurred in 1963 with a 500-metre plastic cultivation plot where they planted beans, peppers and tomatoes in the area around Roquetas de Mar.

According to the newspaper ‘La Voz de Almería’, a nephew joined his project and they started making greenhouses for other farmers from 1964 onwards. Between June and September they built greenhouses and the rest of the year they produced on their farms. Roquetas, Vícar, La Rábita, Níjar, La Mojonera, Campo de Dalías…, saw how the idea of the greenhouse grew. He was advised to patent the process, but, as his son José Domingo recalls, “my father did not want to take advantage of the people in the countryside, who were humble families who wanted to prosper by working”. Paco ‘El piloto’ died on 2 April 1973 at the age of 51. He was unable to see how some of his contributions helped Almeria, the most arid area in Europe, to become one of the most important agricultural vanguards in the world.

The greenhouse: a success story in Almeria agriculture

The first greenhouse gave very good results. With an investment of 35,000 pesetas (€210), the first harvest produced double the amount invested. If in other areas they obtained 1 kilo of pods per metre, in a greenhouse they achieved 6 or 7 kilos and two harvests. Everyone immediately began to replicate the experience. The Almeria agricultural model worked.

a landscape full of greenhouses in the province of Almeria, Spain

Photo: Juan Antonio Sánchez

The success of the greenhouse was such that in almost record time the Instituto Nacional de Colonización began to expand this intensive cultivation system throughout the villages of the province, especially in the Poniente area, with favourable conditions for the colonists who managed the new plots.

The rest came as a matter of course. The 1970s saw the beginning of massive installation under plastic. Today there are more than 32,000 hectares of greenhouses where fruit and vegetables are grown all year round.

At ISAM we are very aware of the success of the Almeria model so that those who do not have the opportunity to visit the province know how to use the knowledge of the agri companies that are located in the largest agricultural hub. Our International Master in Agribusiness Management Online will help you learn the secrets of the sector.

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