REAP Conference 2024 registration is open
Book tickets, feature in the technology exhibition or apply for a REAP bursary - available for farmers and those in full-time agriculture-related study

Opportunities to support ‘measure to manage’ agenda in Spain

Agri-TechE Article
Tremap Ltd Tremap Ltd

worries about water …

… transition to net zero …

… increasing emphasis on biology over chemistry to manage crops …

… and a community of producers in need of trusted technological solutions.

A snapshot of agriculture in Spain paints a familiar picture. Agri-TechE took a recent trip to Valencia for Connect Clean’s International AgroTech Day and the associated Terra Eco trade show for organic producers. The visit gave an insight into the industry from another perspective.

Change is coming to the Spanish agri-food industry

Mandated by the European Union, the Green Deal aims to reduce Europe’s GHG emission by at least 55% by 2030 and become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. Change is also being driven by the big supply chains passing their net zero ambitions onto their suppliers.

The Spanish Food Supply Chain Law (LCA), passed in 2020, adds an additional layer of responsibilities and complexity. The LCA guarantees fair prices for producers across the value chain. It should ensure that no-one works at a loss and puts an end to unfair trading partnerships. Sanctions await those found to be contravening.

The challenges of meeting these expectations

Valencia trip March 2023

While there is a clear commitment to tackle environmental issues and labour standards, implementing them poses big challenges for this heterogenous, somewhat fragmented industry, consisting of many smaller producers all at different points on their journey of technology adoption.

Not least, the problem with meeting fair trading standards begins with an inability to accurately calculate the unit cost of primary production. Without this, a ‘fair’ price cannot be determined.

And the weather is a constant challenge. This growing season’s cold pre-Christmas followed by a warmer period impacted supply to certain customers, including to the UK. More extreme weather conditions are widely predicted which is likely to lead to ongoing instability of supply.

In essence, many producers are simply not adequately tooled up for the change that is coming their way, whether financially, practically, or psychologically.

Obstacles to overcome

Valencia trip March 2023 more support needed for measure-to-manage agenda

In some cases, big investment in infrastructure is needed before innovation can be adopted. One example is the separation of olive stones (pits) from flesh to produce a higher quality oil and to offer an additional valorisation opportunity for the pits. However, this requires both a physical change in processing as well as large-scale investment to make it happen.

There is also a broad lack of trust in forecasting data. Some reflected that crop models serve as poor indicators of the future given the unprecedented challenges of climate change.

The innovation gap between the research and the producers further prevents the benefits of other tech gamechangers filtering into the growing sphere – such as big data, distributed ledger technologies (including blockchain), and even artificial intelligence.

Next Steps

Valencia trip March 2023

Despite these barriers, a variety of tech is being used; from insects and enzymes to reduce food waste, to satellites and sensors for crop monitoring and forecasting.

Clearly there is a major opportunity – indeed a call-to-arms – for innovative solutions to support Spanish producers adopt the “measure-to-manage” agenda. From tokenisation of trees (as developed by Tremap), to bio-based solutions to manage drought and pests, the opportunities are clear.

Tremap, one of the Agri-TechE members on the trip, saw clear opportunities for the tokenisation of trees, to help efficiencies in the production of citrus and olives.

An interesting market, with familiar challenges – and a lot more sun….

Watch this space for more opportunities to showcase your solutions in Spain!