Garlic growers warn they may be forced to move their plantations in Córdoba to other regions owing to lack of water for irrigation

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President of the Garlic Sector of the Association of Young Farmers Asaja Córdoba and Vice Chairman of the National Garlic AssociationMiguel del Pino, yesterday warned that the drought could adversely affect production in coming months, especially in the Montalbán area, from which growers have already begun moving some of their plantations to other areas in Andalusia and Castile-La Mancha as the groundwater in those regions enables garlic to successfully be grown there.

Del Pino explained that "the problem stems from the fact that garlic production is a very expensive business, as one hectare costs around 12,000 euros as a minimum from start to finish", which means that "you need to produce significant quantities so as not to make a loss".

In this respect, he noted that "garlic needs very little water, around 3,000 cubic metres per hectare, which is very little water compared to other crops, but it does need irrigation at the right time". Consequently, he warned, "the problem we have now is that around 20% of the wetlands are, unfortunately, in the  Genil-Cabra region, which is supplied by the wetland of Iznájar."

According to a statement issued, "there is enough water to sow crops until 31 October, and if it does not rain, the water will be cut off". As a result, Del Pino explains, "growers are worried that they will have invested 12,000 euros per hectare but if there is no water supply to enable the garlic to continue to grow, the head will form, and the crops will be ruined."

Faced with this situation, he says, "growers are desperately looking for land with a good water supply", adding "this is more likely" in areas with "groundwater", so growers are looking for areas with wells, explaining that "Andalusia has groundwater and, in fact, some garlic growers have already moved to Seville and Antequera (Malaga)."

Nevertheless, the sector representative assures that "there is more likelihood of groundwater in Castile-La Mancha", so "some garlic growers are now considering it, and others have already made the move, in order to safeguard their crops and have a guaranteed water supply", he explained.

Petition sent to the CHG

Furthermore, Del Pino said that "garlic growing does not generate very many jobs", explaining that "the paid work involves shelling, which can be done in Montalbán", while "cutting the garlic requires many workers, who normally come from abroad, from Morocco and Romania, as well as from the local area, albeit fewer workers are locals.

In this sense, he explained that "although the garlic is sown in Castile-La Mancha, it is sent to warehouses in Córdoba, which is where much of the work is generated", therefore "moving garlic plantations to other regions won't result in many local job losses", he confirmed, adding that in the wetlands situation "more water is going to sea, which is a real shame given the water shortage".

A petition has therefore been sent to the Guadalquivir Hydrographic Confederation (CHG) stating that "when the water is cut off on 31st October, as it is the Confederation which assesses the water supply and its availability for particular crops, that it should supply some water" to the garlic sector, "as this same situation, unfortunately, arose many years ago", emphasising that "they require very little water" to grow.

ABCCórdoba, retrieved on 26.11.2021

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