The scarcity of land with irrigation concessions and the growing interest of investment funds and international companies in the agri-food sector has triggered a rise in the price of land in Almería, which faces what can be called an agricultural land bubble. One hectare of land can amount to 400,000 or 420,000 euros on farms that do not have special characteristics to support that price, emphasized Adoracion Blanque, the general secretary of the ASAJA agricultural association in Almeria.
"In the last two campaigns, we have been experiencing an increase in the value of the land for greenhouses that do not respond to the economic reality of the sector, distorting what is known as the Almeria model. It seems we're going from having an equitable distribution of land among many families, which has done much for the distribution of Almeria's wealth, to quite the opposite. The trend is changing towards a model of large owners due to the loss of profitability, uncertainty, and rise in production costs."
Sales of up to 47 euros per square meter are being closed in the West of Almeria, something that is only affordable for large producers who can amortize the value of this new property with the yield of the other hectares that they are already exploiting; or by companies and investment funds that see in the primary sector a long-term economic potential.
Andres Gongora, the general secretary of the agricultural organization COAG in Almeria, confirmed that there are beginning to be speculative movements and investment funds that have a lot to do with the fact that this increase in value is happening. "Buying a property is already prohibitive, and leases are also increasing."
The price increases while the available surface is depleted, limited by the province's water reserves. Producers expect the Ministry of the Environment to clarify the permits for irrigation of new plots as soon as possible, as it represents one of the elements that most distort the value of the land.
In addition, according to COAG, new competitors appear in the bid for these agricultural soils, with the arrival of energy companies that are interested in installing photovoltaic panels and that are already building macro orchards of hundreds of hectares of extension.