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Ag journalists get an up-close look at organic olive oil production in southern Spain

March 21, 2024
Ag journalists get an up-close look at organic olive oil production in southern Spain

Twenty-four journalists from 15 countries recently ventured to the south of Spain with the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) to explore the agricultural operations that make that region unique. The crown jewel of the press trip was a visit to the Olivarera de Los Pedroches Cooperative, or Olipe, where organic olive oil producers are collaborating with Alltech Crop Science to make their farms more environmentally and economically sustainable.

Outstanding olive oil in the spotlight

Pozoblanco, Cordoba — where the Olipe cooperative is headquartered — was uncharacteristically gloomy during the IFAJ trip, but the journalists remained eager to learn about the olives grown in this mountainous region. Spain produces approximately 50% of the world’s olive oil, and this region is particularly well-known for its long tradition of olive oil production thanks to its climate and topography, which are perfect for olive cultivation.  

Representatives of the Olipe co-op were also proud to explain to the journalists that the olive oil produced in southern Spain features the highest level of polyphenols of any olive oil in the world. Since polyphenols have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, this outstanding characteristic has brought olive oil cooperatives like Olipe to the attention of major brands — including L’Oreal, which sources olive oil from the cooperative to be used in its cosmetic products.

Making positive change through a Planet of Plenty partnership

A person holding a plant

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Francisco Gálvez, project manager for olive and almond farming for Alltech Crop Science (ACS) in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, discusses the olives grown at the Olipe co-op, which is partnering with ACS to improve the economic and environmental sustainability of ag production.

While Olipe has already achieved great success, the region’s olive farmers want to improve their operations even more while remaining environmentally sustainable — and Alltech Crop Science intends to help them do just that.

Alltech Crop Science has established a Planet of Plenty partnership with Olipe to develop an ambitious five-year plan that includes soil analysis and research studying the process of growing olives in the Los Pedroches region. The results of those studies will allow Ideagro and Alltech Crop Science to formulate custom solutions for Olipe that will help enhance sustainable olive production in Spain.

The IFAJ cohort heard from Francisco Gálvez, project manager for olive and almond farming for Alltech Crop Science in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and Liana Dobler, Alltech’s Spanish and Portuguese communications manager, who shared details about several of the other initiatives that will be explored through this partnership, including:

  • the production of organic compost from mill waste
  • utilizing olive pits in the manufacture of plastic-substitute products
  • the validation of olive oil with a high oleocanthal content and a high polyphenol index

Notably, Alltech Crop Science has committed to covering all costs related to the monitoring and experimentation processes underway at Olipe through this partnership. Alltech Crop Science will also help distribute the olive oil produced through the co-op internationally. Olipe, on the other hand, will invest the profits that result from this project in training and educational activities that will help attract and keep olive farmers in the Los Pedroches region.  

Sharing the recipe for success

Throughout the IFAJ’s press trip to Olipe, the co-op’s olive farmers were excited to discuss how they’re working to make agricultural production more sustainable and more profitable — and the journalists in attendance are eager to help tell that story to the world.

“For the Olivarera Los Pedroches Cooperative, this type of visit serves as a platform to let everyone know about the incredible projects they are carrying out,” said Gálvez of Alltech Crop Science.  

“We all enjoyed the visit to cooperative,” said Lena Johansson, president of the IFAJ. “It’s always more interesting and useful for journalists to see things on-site than on PowerPoint slides.”

The journalists will continue sharing what they learned first-hand about olive oil production in southern Spain with readers across the globe — including those with no connection to agriculture, who will likely be fascinated to learn how olive farmers are contributing to economic, environmental and social sustainability. 

About the author:

Liana Dobler is Alltech’s Spanish and Portuguese Communications Manager globally. She is responsible for communications strategy, including content management and social media, for all Spanish and Portuguese stakeholders.
Liana has been with Alltech for 17 years, beginning as a sales assistant in Alltech Brazil. Her journey later led her to Alltech Argentina where she served in a regional capacity as Latin America Communications Manager. Liana relocated to Spain in 2022.