Esteban Moya, a farmer from Torres, province of Jaén

1. Introduction

Esteban Moya is a farmer from Torres, province of Jaén, who spends 100% of his time in the field. He owns olive groves, cherry and almond trees in smaller quantities. His farms are within the Sierra Mágina Natural Park, which holds the certification of Protected Designation of Origin. All the extension of land are used for an ecological production. The crops are mostly located on slopes. He makes direct sale of his organic products through different ways.  

2. Promoter profile

3. Farm Profile

Address
El Cornetal, Torres, Jaén
Address

37.7885466574, -3.52010965347

Country
Spain
Farm area in hectar
25.00
Date of establishment of the farm
Date since when the promoter owns/rents the farm
NUMBER OF WORKERS FAMILY MEMBERS EXTERNAL WORKERS
Full time 0 7
Part time 0 0
Farm description

The estates of Esteban are in the districts of Torres and Jimena, both province of Jaén and located in the Sierra Mágina Natural Park. His crops are olive and cherry trees and in some areas he has planted almond trees among them. Their farms have the main characteristic of being located in a mountain area with a steep slope, having to maintain vegetation cover all year round, terraces and other structures, to avoid the important erosion that occurs in the land, as a result of the rains, snowfall and specific droughts. All its production is organic and is sold directly, without intermediaries, to individuals, ecological consumption groups and organic stores.

4. Multifunctional/sustainable farming and European Agricultural Landscapes (EAL)

Landscape type
Free Text

Esteban began his agricultural activity with the cherry trees. He inherited part of the farms he currently has and also bought others. Thanks to the help of incorporation that he was granted, he was able to continue farming and acquire more land. Using organic oil, he has the problem of being one of the few farmers in the area that are not conventional. He should have been incorporated in a collective where the olive is ground into exclusive organic olive oil, but this is not feasible. He also proposed to start 15 or 20 days before the rest of the collectors but the energy costs were very high and in the end he almost always chooses to sell to a private company. The CAAE has ecological certification for farms, olives and cherry trees, but oil production does not have it for this reason.

Another difficulty is being surrounded by conventional farms that deal with phytosanitary products. He offers to establish the boundaries of neighboring farmers, so they do not use pesticides near his farms.

With the community of irrigators, there is another complication. He tried to negotiate an arrangement with them, so that they do not use chemical fertilizer when irrigating, but he did not manage it he farms either leave them dry or they become independent and block the water when they are about  to irrigate with chemical products.

Most of their farms have a steep slope so it is mandatory to keep the plant cover all year, so that the roots hold the soil. The only action that he realizes is the clearing. There are very old, ancestral terraces made of stone that are preserved in perfect condition and he keeps them in the best shape possible. Access to certain farms is impossible when it rains or snows due to its poor condition, and this should be addressed by some authority before any major accidents occur.  

Advice/Recommendation

"Many farmers, just for the sake of being a lifelong, think that they know everything and that ecology can be applied easily, but it is not the case. You have to comply with many requirements and regulations and there are many tasks that are carried out in conventional agriculture that are totally incompatible with organic farming".

"From my own experience, I would always recommend farming as a career choice, you are your own boss, you get  lot of freedom, you produce healthy, quality food and respect the environment, I feel very proud of being a farmer and being ecological gives even greater satisfaction".

5. Considerations, skills/competences involved and queries/questions

General considerations

The agriculture in this type of landscape is in many occasions carried out thanks to the perseverance and effort of the farmers who want  to take innovate. Because it is very difficult to access these lands with steep slopes, there is a possibility of having an accident especially if you try to access them on cloudy days with low temperature. One also comes across the fact that they are lands that have been passed from parents to children and these in turn inherited them from their ancestors and there is a very important human factor; the appreciation that you have for a land that belonged to your family, that for many difficulties that one has to harvest, collect and take care of, that affection and that desire to fight for it comes first. On the other hand, farmers are sometimes very opposed to learning new things, because they have been doing what their parents, grandparents, etc. did. t's hard to change their way of thinking, their mentality. But you begin to see a change in young people who are entering the field today. They are more formable, they accept advice and they are eager to learn new topics, unknown to them and their families. They are aware of these new topics and they want to know everything possible to apply it correctly in their farms. This is very good news for the field, the environment and the health of the population.

Esteban recommends having training in organic production if a person wants to dedicate to this field. He considers of great importance to be informed about everything what is possible in this matter, or through courses, conferences, on the part of public or private organisms.

When one is dedicated to organic farming, he feels proud to produce healthy products, free of pesticides, quality and knowing that they are promoting biodiversity when doing this type of management. If we add to that the location of the land in a Natural Park, with these impressive slopes, these terraced crops and the breath-taking views ... what else can you ask for.

But everything has its drawbacks. The lack of promotion of these organic products is something that should be solved as well as adapting those dangerous roads in winter especially. More economic aid should be provided to farmers with difficulties in the orography of the land, areas at risk of depopulation, etc. Currently, there is some support but are it is so scarce that sometimes it is not worth the effort and the sacrifice; some farmers give up and leave the field, sometimes selling their farms or leasing them. 

Strengths Weaknesses
  • It belongs to PDO and maintains a diversified and multifunctional model.
  • Promotion of biodiversity through ecological management.
  • Located in Natural Park.
  • Conservation of the landscape and the structure of the soil with the terraces.
  • Poor access to farms in mountain areas.
  • Little support for mountain farming.
  • Handling difficulties intrinsic to organic production and the environment.
  • Lack of ecological product promotions.
Opportunities Threats
  • Increase in the consumption of organic products.
  • Ecological products beneficial for health.
  • Work in mountain areas prevent depopulation.
  • Adaptation to the future PAC.
  • Drought and pests.
  • Risk of contamination by the community of irrigators and neighbouring plots that are not ecological.
  • The competition of conventional crops sold at lower prices.
Main Training/Skills/Competences

Esteban's first foray into the ecological world was a course he took at the town hall of Torres, which was taught by a German teacher based in Spain. It lasted two months and was about aromatic herbs, conservation, transporting products from the garden and especially organic farming. He liked that world so much that he went from that moment to being ecological and he was the only student of the course that did it.

He admits that it is essential to take courses of this type. They are very entertaining and easy going, as well as very educational, which is what it is all about. Many times, in these courses, you are lucky enough to find yourself with very enthusiastic teachers, with great experience in these subjects and this helps you to open your eyes and know how to lead with great success. This is what happened to him, that is why he recommends it so much.

Esteban conducted courses in marketing, processing, counselling, making compost with olive oil by product. All of them he did in the IFAPA (Institute of Agricultural Research and Training and Fishing) and also participated in some COAG courses. 

Queries/Questions

 Do you think it is easy to maintain sustainable exploitation in such a complicated environment as Esteban describes?

 Do you consider that ecological management and multifunctional aspects are the solution?

 Do you think that you could raise in your farm a diversified and multifunctional model like the one Esteban has proposed?