27 DE junio DE 2019
Wikispanishfood.com: What is the current status of organic products here in Spain?
Álvaro Barrera: Spain has gone from being an eminent producer to begin consuming organic products; in fact, this growth has doubled consumption of products in Spain in recent years. As a result, there are more processing companies involved in organic production, imports of organic products have increased during times when there is a shortage and, furthermore, the trade balance between domestic and foreign consumption has gone from 80%-20% to 67%-33%. Moreover, supermarkets (small and large distributors) are now involved in organic production, as a completely new channel for organic products. This new consumer, who eats organic and non-organic foods at the same time, has driven the significant increase in organic consumption.
W: What is the role of Ecovalia in the sector and how does it help producers and sellers?
AB: Ecovalia, which is the national association for organic production, acts as a lobby for the organic sector. Why? To defend the industry's interests vis-a-vis regional, national and European institutions. It works to increase consumption of organic products and raise awareness about them, to help organic production continue on the path of 2-digit growth. We also provide training and support at international level, with trade missions, and we also create networking opportunities for organic production.
W: Objectives have been established for 2030. What measures will be implemented to achieve them?
AB: Ecovalia has two objectives for 2030. First, to boost organic production at national level to 20%, similar to countries like Denmark and Switzerland. Spain is currently at 2.6% and our idea is to continue to grow to 2030. When we started, we were at 1%, so we're on the right track. The second objective relates to climate change. Organic production is the only regulated production system that mitigates climate change. To that end, the second objective is that 30% of the utilized agricultural area be organic. Why? Because we're talking about not using chemical synthesis substances; we're talking about capturing CO, recovering farmland and fertility. Of course, this is going to slow climate change.
W: What is Ecovalia working on at the moment?
AB: Ecovalia is focused on projects to meet its objectives for 2030. To that end, we're working on a project in different regions of Spain, called EducaBio, which aims to promote organic production among young people at schools, where students, teachers and parents receive information and material teaching them about organic farming. We also have projects to involve agrifood companies in organic production, teaching them about processing, the trade network, and new fairs. We're also working on international projects that are important for our partners, such as our seed project called Liveseed; projects on animal feed, such as Ecofeed; and others on the development of new regulations on organic production which are going to impact southern Europe. Outside of the EU, we're also working with our friends at the Iberoamerican Conference on Organic Agriculture on different projects.
W: Do you believe there is scope for growth in Spain for the future consumption of organic products, as has occurred in other countries around Spain?
AB: Of course. In fact, as I said, that's the primary goal for 2030. Obviously, we're going to converge with Europe on a diet based on organic foods. We have a broad offer which includes all types of vegetables, animal products and fish. As a result, consumers have access to a wide range of varied products which they can buy nearby, from their local specialized store, supermarket or distributor. Greater education, awareness and the need to transform the farming and livestock model is increasing consumption of organic products.
W: What are the challenges Spain faces in terms of organic agriculture?
AB: Obviously, Spain needs to support the development of organic production. We don't have any campaigns to promote or raise awareness about organic production, private entities like Ecovalia do it. We need greater awareness within Spain. This should be a government-wide policy for all of Spain; right now that isn't the case. The Ministry of Agriculture has a strategy, but organic production is much more than that: it's employment, the economy, health, the environment... For that reason, we must ask that organic production be an inclusive strategy by the government.