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Spain: Government encourages growers to renew old greenhouse structures

Andalusia's general secretary of Agriculture and Food, Jerónimo Pérez Parra, stated that one third of the region's greenhouses have obsolete structures, and that this is one of the greatest challenges for horticulture, as he considers greenhouses "the most effective productive system, as they make it possible to meet the growing demand for food at affordable prices." He also said that "it has been demonstrated that greenhouse crops have a smaller environmental impact than open ground production."

Jerónimo Pérez made this statement during a conference he presented at the 7th Meeting on Almeria's Agriculture in the 21st Century, with the title "50 years of plastic-protected crops". Pérez expressed his gratitude to the men and women who "have managed to sustain and help evolve a system which, despite its problems, is likely to have a long and bright future."

Jerónimo also reviewed the main achievements of Almeria's horticulture since the introduction of the first greenhouse in 1963, as well as some of the biggest challenges ahead in the coming years, such as the modernisation of the structures.

He affirmed that almost a third of the greenhouse acreage is now obsolete, whether because of their design or their age, "and improvements should be made to increase productivity, while keeping energy consumption levels low."

Efficient use of water
The use of biomass and solar sources of energy, making progress in the handling of crop waste, taking steps for the improvement and concentration of the marketing of the products and giving value added to fruits and vegetables with their use in the processing industry are some of the other challenges mentioned by the general secretary.

Pérez Parra addressed the need to continue working on the improvement of the image of Almeria's productive system in Europe, as there are still clichés around, such as the one suggesting that greenhouses are predators of the environment, "when in reality our productive system is the most efficient in terms of water use, and has a lower environmental impact than open ground crops, as energy sources are used in a more efficient way."

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