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50 years of strawberries from Huelva

50 years ago, the CSIC facilities located in the municipality of Algarrobo, in the province of Malaga, started the development of the strawberry varieties that are currently grown in the fields of Huelva.

In the mid-1950's, the German engineer and economist Dieter Wienberg made a proposition to his country's Government: to sign an agreement with Spain in order to promote the cultivation of new fruit and vegetable varieties in a place with an exceptional climate: the easternmost Costa del Sol. In May 1961, after having compared the weather conditions of many Mediterranean places, the foundations were laid for the inauguration of what is now the Institute of Subtropical and Mediterranean Hortofruticulture, which is managed by the CSIC and the University of Malaga. Since their inauguration and up until 1975, the facilities were part of a common project in which Germany invested 3 million marks, and Spain, twice that figure. This is how the La Mayora farm gave rise to a true laboratory of varieties that, in many cases, came originally from California. It is the case of strawberries.

This fruit was the first to generate commercial returns. However, the facilities would not be limited to the intensification of agriculture. In the seventies, thousands of German families, in the heat of this news about the "new California", decided to acquire their second homes in the surroundings of La Mayora. This circumstance limited the availability of agricultural land, and also entailed water restrictions for potential entrepreneurs.

"Dieter then considered the option of exporting the crop to the province of Huelva, getting in touch with the entrepreneur Antonio Medina (in the town of Moguer). The subsequent story is well known: 6,000 hectares devoted to strawberry cultivation and about 400 million Euro in annual turnover, still above the joint turnover generated by avocados and mangoes in the Axarquía," say the oldest workers at La Mayora.



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