The largest production of cherries in the province of Alicante It is located in the area covered by the Protected Geographical Indication «Cherries from the Mountain of Alicante«, created in 1991 and located in Alpatró (Vall de Gallinera).
Les Valls de la Marina Alta (the Vall d'Ebo, the Vall d'Alcala, the Vall de Gallinera and the Laguar Valley), in addition to Planes and Benimarfull, have special agroclimatic characteristics for the cultivation of cherry trees. Thanks to the mountainous relief and proximity to the coast, the earliest cherry in the entire Spanish state is harvested, giving rise to a cherry of exceptional quality.
The cultivation of cherries is one of the most established and traditional in this geographical area of the Valencian territory, cultivated on many occasions on family farms. The median annual cherry production at the Cooperative Cerezas Montaña in Alicante ranges between 500,000 kg and 800,000 kg.
In the last four years, the cherry has been affected by the weather and this has caused a notable drop in production. The year 2018 was a standard production season and in Cerezas Montaña de Alicante COOP CV a total of 700,000 kg were collected, while in 2019 some 200,000 kg were collected. In 2020 they were 28,000kg, in 2021 107,000kg were collected and the forecast for 2022 is a production loss of 99-100%.
The municipalities of the Marina Alta affected make an appeal
This year marks four years of a disastrous harvest due to adverse weather conditions that affect production due to lack of pollination and fruit set. For this reason, the different affected municipalities appeal to the General State Administration to declare this point of the territory as an area seriously affected by a civil protection emergency, which amounts to a catastrophic area.
In addition, it must be taken into account that the agricultural production of Les Valls is marked by smallholdings and dry stone terraces located in an orography that makes the daily work difficult for so many families who have been working this crop since time immemorial, in municipalities marked by the increase in recent years of notorious depopulation.
The dry stone is recognized as Intangible Heritage of Humanity, for which the different municipalities affected together with Cerezas Montaña de Alicante COOP. CV urge all agricultural institutions and especially the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development, Climate Emergency and Ecological Transition to take measures to protect and promote the conservation of this agricultural production, with the aim of achieving recognition of this situation of social and agrarian emergency that this area is suffering, as a result of the bad harvest seasons of the last four years.
To this unfortunate situation it must be added that almost the entire cherry agricultural sector is unprotected as they cannot insure their cherry harvest in the yield module due to the high cost of insurance between €0.35 - €0.50/kg. For this reason, the farmer can only insure his harvest for the rains, leaving him without coverage when production is affected by flower set or other adverse effects.
These facts determine that the cherry agricultural sector does not ensure the harvest and when catastrophic seasons occur in a correlative manner, as it is happening, a tangible consequence is produced, such as the abandonment of agricultural production in this geographical area. Due to these circumstances in recent years, it is expected that if the current situation is not reversed, the abandonment forecast will mean more than 45% in the next 5 years.
Agricultural heritage is clearly the main economic pillar that sustains these municipalities, and other socioeconomic factors that affect the rural world depend on this sector: sustainable tourism, population density, maintenance of minimum services... It is evidence that if it is not they take urgent and forceful measures in agriculture, this is condemned to disappear and with it, the towns of the rural environment.