Spanish farmers ditch olives, vines for more lucrative, drought-resistant pistachios

Spanish farmers ditch olives, vines for more lucrative, drought-resistant pistachios

The idea of farming pistachio actually came from the regional institute for agricultural research and development

The farmers in Castilla-La Mancha in central Spain are known to farm olives and vines but they are slowly moving towards a cash crop for quick profits. The last few months have seen them replanting their fields with pistachios – a crop that is worth ten times the value of olives in the market.

“I used to farm cereals, olives and vines but I’ve abandoned them all in order to grow pistachios,” says Gustavo Adolfo Galvez, who has a pistachio plantation near Toledo, told The Guardian. “[They are] a lot more profitable and cheaper to produce, and it’s meant a lot more farmers can survive.”

Galvez also explained that while olives go for 65-85 cents per kg, pistachios fetch around €6-8.

Pistachios can withstand drought – an important factor in La Mancha – but need plentiful water during the nut-forming stage.

The idea of farming pistachio actually came from the regional institute for agricultural research and development which was set up by the regional government way back in 1986. They looked for alternative crop options for the farmers and decided that pistachios were their best option.

“We spent the next 10 years researching alternative crops to the three or four that are already grown here,” José Francisco Couceiro López of the regional institute told The Guardian.

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“Once we moved from theory to practice, we discarded practically all the options aside from pistachio. The pistachio almost magically suits the climate in Castilla-La Mancha. It can withstand the heat and the cold, and it can thrive in poor, shallow soil,” he explained.

Pistachios are not native to Spain and as a result, the seeds are mainly imported from the Middle East.

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