The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food, Luis Planas, visited the Las Palmerillas Experimental Station of the Cajamar Foundation, which is located in El Ejido (Almeria), a province that in recent decades has been a major driver in agricultural production, especially in greenhouses, and that has based its development on the application of innovative cultivation techniques and biotechnology.
“Research and innovation have been key to the development of the agricultural sector and the success of Almeria,” said the minister. Other key factors have been financial support and the hard work of all farmers, who have created value and wealth, he added. Almeria is currently the Andalusian province with the highest value of agricultural production – accounting for almost a quarter of the regional total – and leads agri-food exports with more than 3.5 billion euros.
During his visit, the minister had the opportunity to learn about some of the work in progress, such as the test on irrigation and fertilization sensors, studies on the effect that climate warming has on the soil and carbon fixation, improvement in soil management, and the tests with subtropical greenhouse crops, among other things. “Digital transformation is not an option, but a necessity,” Planas emphasized.
The minister stressed the importance of public-private partnerships in this area. He recalled that his Ministry and the Cajamar Foundation had signed a general action protocol that provides financial lines for the development of projects financed with European funds that are carried out by producer organizations, interbranch organizations, and associative entities. Under this protocol, last October, the ministry and the entity signed a collaboration agreement for the start-up of the observatory for the digitization of the agri-food sector.
Planas has reiterated that innovation and digitalization constitute a cross-cutting axis in the National Strategic Plan of the Common Agricultural Policy and one of the main lines of action of the Recovery, Transformation, and Resilience Plan (PRTR) and the Agri-Food project, financed by Next Generation European funds.
The PRTR aid line for the integral transformation and modernization of greenhouses, with a total of 120 million euros spread over three years, has stood out for its special impact in Almeria. Andalusia got 31.6 million euros of the annuity already allocated to the autonomous communities, i.e., 79% of the total for 2021.
In addition, this community is also home to the PRTR’s largest investment in irrigation modernization, with a total of 19 actions budgeted at 140.56 million euros, i.e., 17.6% of the national total. Almeria is the province with the largest number of actions, 10, and with a budget of 87.76 million euros, which accounts for 62% of the Andalusian total and 11% of the national total.