5,000 producers in Poniente Granada produce more than half of the national green asparagus production
Green asparagus began to be cultivated in the Granada municipality of Huétor Tájar in the 1930s and it wasn’t really consumed outside the locality until the 1960s when a bus company that passed through the town on the way to Barcelona took it to Catalonia and some markets there.
Almost a century later, the region of Huetor Tajar has become a benchmark in the cultivation of this vegetable. In 2018, Spain harvested 59,825 tons of green asparagus; a production that was valued at nearly 100 million euro. 52% of this production -i.e. one out of every two asparagus – was grown in Huetor Tajar and the fields of Poniente Granada.
Nearly 5,000 workers work in the 6,978 hectares of asparagus cultivation in Huetor Tajar and its surroundings, most of which are irrigated, stated Antonio Zamora, a representative of the green asparagus cooperatives of Granada and Andalusia and president of Cesurca, one of the oldest and largest cooperatives in the town. Asparagus generates 3,500 to 4,000 daily jobs between March and mid-June. 14 cooperatives have been created to manage this employment and the commercialization of the product, which fluctuates between 50 and 60 million euros. These cooperatives give support to producers and handlers, most of which are women.
Asparagus from Huetor Tajar PGI
At the end of the nineties, the sector started a wild asparagus selection project to create a new product that was more bitter and more similar to the wild asparagus that is harvested after the rain. This resulted in the purple-green asparagus, which in 2000 obtained the protected geographical indication (PGI) Asparagus from Huetor Tájar.
Antonio Zamora is also the president of the very recently created Green Asparagus Interprofessional Association in Spain, which brings together almost 90% of the producers. Zamora acknowledged that the green asparagus sector was still small compared to other products and that the goal of the interprofessional was to create a figure that allows them to have fluid contact with the Administration and to create campaigns to favor the product in Spain and in other markets. The United States, which is now closed to fresh green asparagus, is one of those markets. «It’ll take years, but it’s one of our objectives,» Zamora stated.