Research cases

THE PRODUCTION ENCLAVES SELECTED ARE FULLY INTEGRATED INTO THE GLOBAL RESTRUCTURING DYNAMICS TO WHICH THE AGRICULTURAL AREAS CONNECTED TO GLOBAL AGRI-FOOD CHAINS IN THE EAST AND SOUTH OF SPAIN HAVE BEEN SUBJECTED AND, AT THE SAME TIME, ARE REPRESENTATIVE OF THEIR HETEROGENEITY IN TERMS OF PRODUCTION FABRIC, QUALITY FORMULAS IMPLEMENTED AND ORGANISATION OF PRODUCTION AND PACKAGING-PROCESSING.

LA PRODUCCIÓN DE UVA DE MESA Y FRUTAL EN LA VEGA MEDIA DEL SEGURA (MURCIA).

In the Vega Alta del Segura, since the end of the 19th century, a first cycle of commercial agriculture for export was developed around fruit production, specializing in the production of oranges and stone fruits for canning. Already in the 20th century, during the 50’s and 60’s, a second cycle of fruit expansion took place, centred on the canning industry, which laid the foundations for the development of the agro-industrial phase of the 80’s, with the expansion of fresh production destined for export. This territory currently has a dual production structure: on the one hand, small and medium-sized family farms, with a distribution structure based on cooperatives; on the other, the growing presence of large companies that integrate the agricultural production phase, the handling warehouse and marketing, which introduces new logics in the forms of production and labour organisation. Day labourers who are native to or come from other areas of Spain have been replaced, to a large extent, by migrant workers, so that gender, as a central element in the social organization of work, is now joined by the nationality and ethnic origin of the workers. In recent years, the cultivation of table grapes for export, especially in the apirena varieties, has undergone strong expansion, which has resulted in significant changes. From the point of view of producers and entrepreneurs, the growing importance of table grapes is changing the agricultural structure of the area. The expansion of the scale of agricultural production has displaced small producers by requiring huge investments in production and technological infrastructure. The result has been a business structure organized around large and medium-sized enterprises. From the point of view of the social organization of work, we find an increase in temporariness, with a growing presence of temporary work agencies, and a general worsening of working conditions. Much of the restructuring of production and variety has been linked to the implementation of quality certifications controlled by the large distributors.

The production of strawberries and other berries in the province of Huelva

The cultivation of strawberries and other berries, which was promoted in the 1960s after the introduction of the most advanced agricultural technology from California, extends over 7,000 hectares along the coast of the province of Huelva. Currently there are still three production centres: Almonte, Cartaya-Lepe-Isla Cristina and Moguer-Palos de la Frontera-Lucena del Puerto, the area where cultivation began and from where it spread to the rest of the country. It is this last area that has been selected as an observation unit. Huelva’s intensive agriculture stands out for having become the first exporter of strawberries in Europe and the second in the world after California. Although in recent decades there has been a trend towards land concentration, this crop is still based on the predominance of smallholdings. In spite of this, the fundamental role played by labour migration, and especially that of women, in sustaining the labour market stands out. The pressures exerted on this productive enclave in the last period have led to profound changes, in a context marked by greater competitiveness, an imbalance in the ratio of production costs to income, greater power of distribution to impose prices and new demands in terms of quality. In this sense, we understand that quality regulation systems have become a key element in the practices, relations and tensions that exist between the distribution, production and work environments, while the different actors (and in different ways) use quality in the strategies developed to avoid the dismantling of the global agricultural chain. In this crop, private quality certifications acquire a special weight.

Wine production in the region of Jerez (Cádiz).

The region of Jerez is located in the southwest of Andalucía in nine municipalities, mostly in the province of Cádiz, and is an emblematic local production system in the region. In recent decades, despite the crisis in traditional local wine-growing products, the wineries of the Marco de Jerez have been involved in a process of adaptation to the globalization of the food industry, redefining their place in global chains. From local wineries they have gone on to international groups of alcoholic beverages, promoting processes of deterritorialisation, although they have maintained an important control over the designations of origin which, however, have undergone a process of change in their regulation, adapting to the new quality demands of global markets. In 2016, according to data from the Regulating Council, the surface area of vineyards in the Marco de Jerez region was estimated at almost 7,000 hectares owned by 1,600 viticulturists and bodegas who produced 57 million kilos of grapes. Of the 66 bodegas registered with the Regulating Council, 51 bodegas, 77 percent, were exporting bodegas. Today, the Jerez region produces fortified wines and vinegar under the three designations of origin “Jerez-Xérès-Sherry”, “Manzanilla-Sanlúcar de Barrameda” and “Vinagre de Jerez” governed by the same Regulatory Council, as well as brandy de Jerez protected by a Geographical Indication. In addition to these Denominations of Origin, other Vinos de la Tierra de Cádiz are also produced with a strong presence in supermarket chains and some with organic certification, as well as other alcoholic drinks. The main Jerez wineries are now international beverage groups as a result of their insertion in global chains, so the Marco de Jerez is now an international centre for bottling and logistics of alcoholic beverages, many of which are not produced locally.

La producción de naranja y caqui en la Ribera Alta y la Ribera Baja (Valencia).

La Ribera del Xúquer es una comarca natural e histórica que agrupa las comarcas administrativas de la Ribera Alta y la Ribera Baixa, en la provincia de Valencia. Estas comarcas centrales valencianas con una rica agricultura se orientan, junto con otras limítrofes, desde mediados del siglo XIX al cultivo de naranjas, mandarinas y otros agrios, de alto valor económico, de los que una parte muy importante se exportaba a Europa. Otros rasgos característicos son el predominio de las pequeñas explotaciones agrícolas y la importancia de las cooperativas, muy extendidas desde mediados del siglo XX. En la actualidad, tanto la Ribera Alta como la Ribera Baixa poseen una estructura económica diversificada, con un importante sector servicios y una relevante industria, aunque la agricultura –básicamente agrios—y la industria auxiliar vinculada mantienen su relevancia económica y social. Se trata de un cuasi monocultivo de agrios y otros frutales, a cargo de pequeños propietarios, la mayoría organizados en cooperativas, y orientado a la exportación. Aunque algunas grandes empresas, de capital agroalimentario valenciano, han estado presentes históricamente en la zona, desde mediados de los años 80 y a lo largo de los años 90 aumenta la presencia, relevancia y creciente protagonismo, de las grandes empresas distribuidores, tanto de capital español como internacional. En términos de calidad, ello ha implicado la generalización de los estándares marcados por las grandes distribuidoras. En la última década se ha dado un proceso de reconversión de cultivo de cítricos a caquis enalgunas partes de la comarca, por el bajo precio de la naranja, la idoneidad del terreno y la creciente demanda de este fruto en el mercado. Estudiaremos también este cultivo, dado que se rige por el mismo modelo de producción, recolección, comercialización y distribución, que caracteriza a los cítricos en estas comarcas valencianas.

La producción vitivinícola en la Denominación de Origen Utiel-Requena (Valencia).

Ubicada en el interior de la Comunidad Valenciana, ocupa prácticamente todo el territorio de la comarca La Plana de Utiel-Requena, con nueve municipios. Antigua zona cerealista, con la crisis del oídium en Francia a mediados del siglo XIX, la demanda exterior de vinos transformará la comarca en una zona eminentemente vitivinícola. Ya en la primera mitad del siglo XX, se consolidan los rasgos que definen la zona: el predominio de la pequeña propiedad, el cuasi monocultivo vitivinícola, la tradición exportadora de vino a granel y la organización en cooperativas. Desde finales de los años 80, de forma decidida en los años 90, la DO Utiel-Requena ha conocido un importante proceso de reestructuración productiva en el que el Consejo de la Denominación de Origen y las bodegas privadas, con un creciente protagonismo, han constituido la punta de lanza, con el apoyo de la administración y en el marco de las orientaciones y ayudas de la PAC. Uno de los ejes de esta reestructuración productiva ha sido la calidad, muy vinculada a las nuevas demandas del mercado, con medidas que han ido desde la introducción de nuevas variedades “mejorantes”, la elaboración de vinos de calidad, su diversificación en términos de gama, variedades y elaboraciones, así como una compleja heterogeneidad de requerimientos y acreditaciones (además de las establecidas por el Consejo de la DO). La orientación exportadora ha tenido un notable resultado, el comercio exterior supuso en la campaña 2013-2014 el 78,9% del valor del comercio vitivinícola; además el vino embotellado representó el 98% del valor económico de las exportaciones. Sin embargo, los pequeños productores han visto debilitada su posición frente a las bodegas, consideran que no se paga adecuadamente la calidad y las cooperativas tienen crecientes dificultades para afrontar los retos derivados de la globalización del mercado del vino, entre otros, la cuestión de la calidad.