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					REGION OF MURCIA




     FACTS
MURCIA IN THE MEDITERRANEAN AREA




Facts Region of Murcia             2
Index
                                                    page

 Map of Murcia

 Index                                              3

 DOCUMENTATION                                      4
     History of Murcia                              5

 GASTRONOMY                                         7

 ORGANIZATIONS                                     12
     INFO (Development Agency)                     13

 INDUSTRIAL SECTORS                                16
     Foodstuffs                                    17



Elaborated by the Foreign Trade Department (INFO)




Facts Region of Murcia                                     3
            DOCUMENTATION




Facts Region of Murcia      4
History of Murcia

THE BEGINNINGS

The oldest trace of human existence in the Region of Murcia seems to go as far back as a
million and a half years. They left us nothing but a few remains of retouched silex tools.
Despite the existence of remains which back up the idea of Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon
presence and of Neolithic culture, it is during the Iron Age when this territory shows a high
level of development. During the Iberian period, there was an important level of agricultural
and livestock development as well as an intense commercial activity. Remains of both these
facts can be seen in several museums throughout the region.

ROMAN MURCIA

This period started with the conquest, led by Escipión in the year 209 b.c., of Carthago Nova,
an important economic and political center of western Mediterranean. The importance gained
by the city during this period is mostly due to the exploitation of rich mines in the Murcian
coastline. Meanwhile, the romanization of the region‟s inland meant the setting up of some
rustic villages barely populated. The region underwent moments of deep political vacuum
until the Arab conquest.

ARAB DOMINION

In the year 713, general Abdelaziz arrives to the region and confronts the Hispanic-Visigothic
army of Teodomiro in Cartagena. The foundation of the city of Murcia by Abderramán II in
the year 825, sets the beginning of a period of great economic growth. Arabs made the most
of the Segura river course, near the city, in order to build a number of complex irrigation
channels, pipes, mill dams, waterwheels and aqueducts. These are the predecessors of the
current irrigation system, which were used to make the most of the resources provided by the
fertile Segura region. Murcia didn‟t become an independent kingdom until the second half of
the 11th century and, therefore, it had to pay homage and fealty to the kings of Almeria. With
its independence, during the twelfth century, Murcia became an important economic and
political center, which entailed an increase in the number of public works, such as religious
buildings and fortresses. However, the pressure exerted by bordering Castilla and the political
chaos in Lorca, Mula, Cartagena and Aledo resulted in a period of great instability. As a result
of all this, in 1243, the kingdom of Murcia had to pay homage and fealty to the kingdom of
Castilla. Later, in 1375, Castilla and Aragón signed an agreement in which the border line
between both kingdoms was established. The final conquest of Granada in 1492 marks the
beginning of a much more stable period, putting an end to the previous frontier instability.


MODERN AGE

The consolidation of peace marks the beginning of a period of fast economic and
demographic growth, with all the cities of the kingdom flourishing during the 16th century. A
constant feature in the history of this region is the alternation of periods of development and


Facts Region of Murcia                                                                        5
growth with others of decadence. The 17th century marked the beginning of another decline
period, with heavy draughts causing plagues, epidemic and food shortage. After the rough
period of the Succession War (1702-1713), a new recuperation process took place: the
extension of irrigation areas caused the farmed land to grow extraordinarily, there was a really
important rise in population and the effects of the progressive opening of commerce started to
be noticed. As many other times, this economic splendor resulted in an increase in the number
of constructions. The most important ones were the finishing of the Cathedral of Murcia,
started in 1394, and the naval yard in Cartagena.

Beginning of the 16th century: the above mentioned stability ended with the uprising of the
Communities, taking Murcia the side of the rebels against the emperor Carlos I, who came to
Murcia in 1541. In the Succession War, Murcia took the side of Felipe V against the archduke
Carlos.

CONTEMPORARY MURCIA

After this golden period, the 19th century started with a new crisis caused by a period of
different draughts, followed by another one of floods and the war against Napoleon. This
situation did not shift until the middle of the century. It was then when the economic activity
broaden, on the one hand, with the exploitation of mines and, on the other, with the first steps
leading to the industrialization process. However, the region was in a precarious situation at
the beginning of the twentieth century. That was because its industry depended on foreign
investment and also because trading had not been able to go beyond the regional borders. In
the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera (1923-1929), Murcia fully incorporated to the
development pace of the country by promoting its industry, boosting the canning, citric and
paprika sectors and modernizing its agriculture.




Facts Region of Murcia                                                                        6
                    GASTRONOMY




Facts Region of Murcia           7
                                     GASTRONOMY
The Murcian Community is, gastronomically speaking, included in the Eastern side of Spain
which includes such different communities as Cataluña, the Valencian Community, Baleares
and Murcia. Even if these communities are very different one from the other, they all have a
common gastronomic bond which is the real Mediterranean Cuisine, a part of their diet.

Despite the common tie, each one of them has its typical peculiarities and variations. These
are linked to the existing idiosyncrasies for each community and to the products which are
more abundant in each territory.

The location of Murcia determines three different cuisine styles: the “manchego” cuisine in
the high plain, the “Huerta” cuisine in the central part of the Region and the “Mar Menor”
cuisine in the coast.

Products from the Huerta 1

The abundant basic goods provided by the fertile meadows of the Segura river are the grounds
of many basic meals in the Murcian cuisine. Legumes, vegetables and other garden produce
are essential ingredients in any regional menu, whether they are on their own (in a endless
number of salads), in fillings or on the side. They also contribute to an elaborated gastronomic
menu with dishes like “Arroz a la huertana” (rice huerta style), beans with fennel and gurullo
(wheat lumpy dough), artichoke with pine nuts and shallots, vegetable stew with lamb,
sweeten tomato pastry or the typical and famous “olla gitana” (gypsy pot).

Calasparra rice

One of the main options in the Murcia cuisine is rice, especially its very well known variety
“Calasparra”. Indispensable ingredient in popular paellas, rice dishes in Murcia become part
of delicious menus, like the “arroz al caldero”(copper rice), “arroz a banda”, rice with chicken
and rabbit or the “arroz huertano”, with vegetables.

Local meals are even more varied and creative, such as the vegetable stew from Cieza with
rice and beans, or rice with snails or vegetable stew with celery and farm turkey from
Calasparra or Lorca. Another peculiarity from this Segura region is its olives, especially the
ones from Cieza, a population which is also very well known for its snail dishes.

Wines from the Region of Murcia

The dry weather and the limestone soil condition the quality of wines in the high plain.
Jumilla and Yecla, with their own Guarantees of Origin, make excellent wines of international
prestige. Wines from Jumilla are full-bodied and of high alcohol content, with a red wine
clearly distinctive because of the purple-like intensity of its shade. This wine can be

1
    Name given to the fertile farms of Murcia


Facts Region of Murcia                                                                         8
purchased in many wineries around the town, like Asensio Carcelén, founded in 1876; Bleda,
which started bottling wine in the region under the name Castillo de Jumilla; Juan Abell
Abellán Guardiola, made from Monastrell grapes; or the Cooperative San Isidro, with a
production of over 30 million liters.

Rosé wines from Yecla, with a tradition that can be traced back to the 17th century, are
smooth and fruity, with a lower alcohol content than those from neighboring Jumilla. Grapes
used are preferably Monastrell, followed by Garnacha, Meseguera and Verdil. In Yecla there
are several wineries such as Castaño, Enrique Ochoa Palao or the cooperative La Purísima.

In Yecla it is also possible to buy traditional cheese, as well as traditional patisserie sweets
such as “sequillos”, “libricos”, “rollicos de anis” (aniseed flavoured small doughnuts) or “pan
bendito” (Holy bread).

Caldero del Mar Menor ( Copper from the Little Sea)

Ingredientes for 8 people:

¾ kg of rice
3 kg of gray mullet
2 ñoras (round dry pepper, autochthonous from the Region)
2 tomatoes
3-4 cloves of garlic
Oil and salt to taste

     Clean the fish thoroughly and season it abundantly. Leave it for a while with the salt
      on it and then rinse it off.
     Put a little bit of oil in a copper pot and then fry the ñoras in it until they brown.
     In a mortar, grind the ñoras with the garlic, parsley and a little bit of salt.
     In a skillet, fry a tomato lightly with the previous mixture and a bit of water. Cook it
      for a while and then, put a part of it to the side and add the rest to the Caldero.
     Add the fish now and let it boil. Take it out and put it in a dish.
     Drain the stew where the fish has been cooked, put it back in the copper and add the
      rice now.
     While the rice is getting cooked, grind a boiled tomato with the stew that we put to the
      side earlier and stir it. Spread it on top of the fish.
     Serve the rice first and then the fish as the second course. Both dishes should be eaten
      with plenty of alioli (garlic mayonnaise).

    NOTE: There are recipes which include dry peppers instead of ñoras (some people think
    they are the same thing, but they are not) and sweet red pepper, and, instead of gray
    mullet, they use monkfish and grouper (what a shame !!!)




Facts Region of Murcia                                                                         9
Chuletas de Cordero en ajo cabañil (Garlic Lamb Chops)

Ingredients for 6 people:

1.5 kg of “vareta” lamb chops (almost boneless)
2 deciliters of olive oil
½ deciliter of white wine vinegar
2 deciliters of water
1 kg potatoes
Garlic, sugar, salt and black paper

     Peel the potatoes and chop them in chunks of about two centimeters of width.
     Grind some peeled cloves of garlic in a mortar and add the vinegar and the water,
      mixing everything thoroughly.
     Now, in two different frying pans:
     1) Put half the oil in one pan and fry the potatoes.
     2) Put the other half of the oil and when it is really hot, fry the chops in it. Fry in high
      heat till they are quite browned.
     We now add half of the previously prepared mixture in a frying pan and the other half
      goes into the other frying pan.
     Put a little bit of sugar in a teaspoon and add to each frying pan.
     Season the contents of both frying pans with salt and pepper and let them cook in low
      heat for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally.
     Before eating it, serve everything in the same dish to present it.


Meat Pie

Ingredients for the pastry:

½ of flour
1.5 deciliters of oil

For the filling:

100 grams of ham
100 grams of choritzo
250 grams of beef
1 “sesada” (brains)
2 tomatoes, 2 peppers, 2 eggs and 1 deciliter of oil

The Pastry:

     Put the flour in a proper recipe and make space in the middle, putting a little bit of salt,
      oil and a deciliter of water in it.
     Mix everything well with a spoon and top up the space we made earlier with flour,
      mixing it all till we get a thin and lump-free mixture.
     Once everything has been kneaded, spread it well with a rolling pin until we get a very


Facts Region of Murcia                                                                         10
      thin layer, and folded a little bit as if it were puff pastry.
     We now split the mixture in two parts, one bigger than the other. We put the bigger
      one on a tin and we stretch it to a centimeter, making a little border in it were a rim.

The Filling:

     We slice the choritzo, the ham (in small slices), the beef chunks and the brains
      (previously cooked)
     Peel the peppers and the tomatoes, chop them and fry them a little bit.
     Hard-boil the eggs and chop them.
     Fry the peppers and the tomatoes lightly with the choritzo, ham, beef and the brains.
     Fill the space in the pastry with the fried mixture and, finally, add the egg.

Final Touch:

     We stretch the smaller piece of pastry the same way we did with the bigger one.
     We now put it on top of the bigger one, as if it were a lid, joining the borders well.
     We spread a little bit of egg on the outside and place it in the oven till it browns.

Zarangollo Murciano (Murcian Mixed Vegetables)

Ingredients for 4 people:

¼ kg of potatoes
200 grams of soft pumpkin
200 grams of tomatoes
1 big red pepper
1 big onion
1 deciliter of oil
Garlic, salt, ground black pepper

     Put oil in a frying pan and heat it up.
     When it is hot, add the onion and the peeled chopped pepper and fry them.
     Chop a clove of garlic, peel and chop the pumpkin and the potatoes as if we were
      going to cook a Spanish omelet (thinly sliced).
     When the onion and pepper are half fried (before it changes colour), we add the rest of
      the ingredients we have previously prepared (garlic, pumpkin and potatoes).
     Peel and take the seeds off the tomato.
     Fry everything together stirring with an iron skimmer until it is cooked and it starts to
      brown. Add the tomatoes then.
     Add a little bit of salt and a little bit of pepper to taste and let it be get cooked until the
      tomato is totally fried.




Facts Region of Murcia                                                                            11
               ORGANIZATIONS




Facts Region of Murcia         12
INFO (DEVELOPMENT AGENCY)

 WHAT IS IT?
The main objective of the development agency in the Autonomous Community of the Region
of Murcia is to help boosting the development SMEs in the region. In order to do so, it tries to
stimulate economic promotion, investment-raising, elimination of limitations and the
development of a positive environment in which to improve competitiveness.

INFO is legally made up as a public and business entity, organically joined to the Ministry of
Technology, Industry and Commerce. This contributes to a more flexible, dynamic and
efficient performance by adapting its different instruments in order to achive the best solution
for each situation.

 WHAT DOES „INFO‟ OFFER?
The mission at the development agency (INFO) is to offer an all-embracing service to
companies in the Region. By means of promotion policies it tries to contribute to the
economic development of the SMEs.

Within this actuation strategy, INFO pays special attention to actuations focused on
technological development, helping in the application and incorporation of the most adequate
technology for each company. On top of this, there other actuations which intend to promote
product marketing and, with the help of collaborators spread throughout the five continents,
support the international expansion of those companies which require the service. INFO also
provides with an information, consultancy and counseling service for companies in and out of
the Region, helping these them in their investments as well as in their creation and expansion
projects.

Another activity carried out by INFO is the lessening of financial obstacles which hamper the
growth and consolidation of the SMEs, helping to finance business projects to do with
investments in assets, quality, technology, internationalization and industrial Equipments.
SMEs find important economic resources in the Aid Programmes provided by the Agency and
in the management of different programmes of the ERDF (European Regional Development
Fund).

 WHAT‟S THE ORGANIZATION IN INFO?
The organization chart of the development agency (INFO) has been formed with the idea of
stimulating communication within our institution. Four departments, horizontal to the whole
organization, and two main arteries have been established (the financing sub-management and
the Projects Sub-management), all of them under the supervision of the main management.
The horizontal departments are the General Secretariat, Analysis and Forecasting, European
Services and Foreign Relations.



Facts Region of Murcia                                                                       13
   FINANCING SUB-MANAGEMENT

The main function of this department is to ease access to financial sources so that small and
medium companies can have the necessary economic and financial strength.

All their actions are carried out in an important framework which includes different
mechanisms such:
     The administrative management of each and every Aid Programme of INFO as well
       as the ones which come from the Economic Programme of Regional Incentives.
     The empowering of new financing means for companies, as with UNDEMUR
       (Reciprocal Covenant Society) or INVERMURCIA (venture capital society).
     Management of European Community Funds, as it is the case of Block Grant.
     Empowering the subsidizing loan‟s interest rates by means of different agreements
       signed with important credit groups such as the Official Credit Institute.

   PROJECTS SUB-MANAGEMENT

This department is responsible for those areas which deal with the following:
    Actions taken to encourage business development by means of investment-raising.
    Boosting of logistics.
    Creation of industrial land.
    Boosting of technological innovation.
    Support to internationalization.

The function of the Equipment Area is to promote the Region of Murcia as an appealing
option for companies and corporations in which to invest, and also to support the creation of
industrial land and, in general, the boosting of logistics in order to develop a basic industrial
infrastructure.

The Innovation Area focuses on actions which intend to promote a dynamic of technological
innovation, which, in turn, has to do with research on access to information technologies and
with the implementation of quality management systems.

The Foreign Trade Department is in charge of all activities which imply, directly or indirectly,
the international business development of companies in the Region of Murcia. The different
actions taken rest upon a number of programmes and activities included in the Foreign
Promotion Plan 2000-2006. These are managed together with the Chamber of Commerce, and
are supported by an important number of offices all over the five continents.

   ANALYSIS AND FORECASTING DEPARTMENT

The target set by this department is the evaluation of prospects and the definition of future
instruments. These are all based on strategies set by the development agency (INFO) in order
to carry out the different activities established, propose diverse courses of action so that INFO
is always capable of adapting to companies‟ necessities in our Region.
One of the instruments of this department is the „economic observatory‟ of SMEs, which is
based on a number of economic works intended to highlight problems and strategies for small
and medium companies, so that adequate action programmes can be coordinated.


Facts Region of Murcia                                                                        14
   DEPARTAMENT OF EUROPEAN SERVICES

One of INFO‟s missions is to become the regional organization responsible for channeling,
processing and managing European aids which, through Community initiatives of any kind,
are capable of providing with economic development. Therefore, the Department of European
Projects has the goal of centralizing INFO‟s relations with all kind of subjects, projects and
initiatives which contribute to improve the economic situation of the Region of Murcia and its
business network.

Among the initiatives which have been undertaken are the „Euroventanilla‟ (Euro Info
Center), the evaluation and control of the Block Grant and the performance of ERDF‟s
innovative actions.

   DEPARTAMENT OF FOREIGN RELATIONS

The Development Agency also offers a horizontal service which includes information and
counseling, not just about INFO‟s initiatives, but also about everything to do with business in
any of its action contexts.

This department works on agreements for the promotion and development of economic
sectors related to mass media, coordination of INFO‟s corporative image, management of a
broad Network of Information Centers in the Region of Murcia and the management of events
and coordination of activities together with the Institutional Relation Office of the Regional
Government in Madrid.




Facts Region of Murcia                                                                      15
          INDUSTRIAL
        SECTORS IN THE
       REGION OF MURCIA




Facts Region of Murcia    16
1. Foodstuffs

1.1. ORGANIC FARMING. Fresh and processed products.

In countries with a developed economy, especially the European Union and the U.S.A., there
is a clear tendency among consumers to spread habits of a good diet, with natural products,
minimally processed and free from intensive treatments.
Organic Farming is the name for a number of agricultural practices which exclude the use of
synthesis chemical products (fertilizers, pesticides, antibiotics,...), both in agriculture and in
cattle raising. This way, the resulting food and agricultural products preserve all their natural
properties.
In the Region of Murcia, Organic Farming provides us with fresh products (fruits, rice,
vegetables, cereals, nuts and dried fruit, meta, honey, etc.) as well as processed ones (olive
oil, wine, canned vegetables, jams, preserves, juices, cheese, spices, bread, frozen vegetables,
cold meat, etc.). They contribute to establish a broad range of high quality products which are
distributed by means of specialized trade channels.
The Board of Organic Farming, consultative body of the Administration, is the regional
control authority, dependent on the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Environment of the
Region of Murcia. All food certified by the body is labelled with a specific back-label which
guarantees that, all throughout the farming, handling and processing stages, the different best
practices regulating Organic Farming have been strictly met.
Since April 2000, there is a common European label which has its own logo, valid for
products which are 100% European. The recognition of these norms, makes the certification
valid for some countries outside the European Union.
In the Region of Murcia, there is not a specific sector of Organic Farming companies as such.
A large number of food and agriculture companies, from different sectors, are associated to
the Regulating Body. They produce and commercialize conventional and organic food,
putting the latest under the control and monitoring processes established by law and by the
Body.
The turnover of regional Organic Farming is over 10 million euros a year and it has a growing
tendency. It is rather relevant that 95% of the production is exported, being the United
Kingdom, Germany, France and Denmark the main clients of these products. Other clients are
Switzerland, the U.S.A. and some other European countries.
Since this is clearly an exporting activity, the Regulating Body of Organic Farming of the
Region of Murcia and its associated companies assist to well-known international trade fairs
such as Biofach (Nuremberg) and Organe (United Kingdom) and they also participate,
actively and frequently, in promotion activities organized by the INFO (Development
Agency) and the ICEX (Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade).
1.1.1. PRODUCTION

Organic Framing products are characterized by the great control paid to the farming, handling
and processing stages and by the use of agricultural and cattle raising practices, free from any
kind of synthetic chemical products and meant to cause minimum pollution. This way, it is


Facts Region of Murcia                                                                         17
possible to guarantee, on the one hand, the total traceability of the product from its point
of origin and the highest food hygiene and safety and assure, on the other hand, that all
the natural characteristics inherent to the food are preserved.
Regional Organic Farming, in line with the great variety of food and agriculture products of
the Region of Murcia, offers a wide range of goods. The following are some of the fresh
farmed and processed products from the Region:
-Fruits: apricot, peach, nectarine, plum, etc.
-Vegetables: artichoke, lettuce, tomato, etc.
-Rice and other cereals.
-Almonds and nuts and dried fruits.
-Slaughtering, quartering and sale of meat.
-Honey.
The main processed products are the following:
-Olive oil.
-Wine.
-Canned fruits and vegetables: tomato, artichoke, apricot, etc.
-Pickles: capers, olives, etc.
-Fruit jams and preserves.
-Fruit juices and cremogenated.
-Goat cheese and yogurt.
-Paprika.
-Spices and aromatic plants.
-Bread.
-Frozen vegetables.
-Vegetal paté and cold meat.
Many companies associated to the Regulatory Body have adopted additional measures to
complement existing control and monitoring systems, implementing quality assurance
systems to meet ISO 9.000 Regulations and environmental management systems according to
ISO 14.000 Regulations. The Body itself is registered according to EN 45.011 Regulations.


1.1.2. DIFFERENTIATING ELEMENTS

Organic Farming products are clearly differentiated by the particular practices adopted during
its integral production process, the strict control exerted by the Regulatory Body and the
express identification by using specific logos and labels.
In the Region of Murcia, together with general quality and safety factors, we have a really
favorable weather for farming, an intense activity of a food and agriculture cluster which is
consolidated and very dynamic, and a remarkable specialized technological development. The


Facts Region of Murcia                                                                     18
wide range of Murcian organic products, both fresh and elaborated, is another factor which
helps the competitiveness of this sector and it also helps promotion and marketing actions
based on business cooperation. This is all centralized by the Regulatory Body.
Patterns of consume in countries with high levels of development and income are clearly
orientated to a healthier and more natural diet. In this context, Murcian producers of
organic products have knowledge of great value, a favorable environment and the adequate
resources and capacities to help them keep up a solid policy of growth and development.


1.2. RICE. GUARANTEE OF ORIGEN “CALASPARRA”

In the hillsides of the High Meadows of the Segura River and of its main tributary, the Mundo
River, there is a singular ecological habitat which is favorable for rice cultivation because of
its high quality waters, microclimate and altitude.

In this privileged environment, we can find the “Coto Arrocero de Calasparra” (Rice-
growing Reserve of Calasparra), name officially given by Royal Decree the 1st of February of
1908, where this product has been farmed since far-off times, as several documents from the
15th century prove.

In 1986, Calasparra Rice obtained its Designation of Origin and it become the only rice in
the world with such name. The Regulatory Body, organization in charge of monitoring the
farming, elaboration and presentation of this rice, has the following objectives:
     Assure the quality guarantee of the product.
     Prove its designation of origin.
     Promote it national and internationally.

The peculiar characteristics of this farming area limit its production capability. There
are 1000 hectares registered in the Plot Register for this Designation of origin. However, the
“rotation” system which is used for farming reduces the cultivated land for each harvest down
to 600 hectares, with a yearly production that varies from 2.000 to 3.000 tons. The Body
manages more than 90% of the area‟s total production.

The industrial sector comprises just two processing companies, one of them a cooperative,
with a processing and packing capacity which is in line with the production.

Rice varieties registered under the Calasparra Designation of Origin are exclusively “Bomba”
and “Balilla x Sollana”, both of them marketed as “White”, in categories “Extra” and “First”
or as “Brown”.

Limited quantities of organic rice are also marketed, representing less than 10% of the total
production. Plots of land with this crop meet all the specific regulations of the Regulatory
Body for the „Calasparra‟ Designation of Origin. Additionally, it also complies with the
requirements established by the Organic Farming Ministry.




Facts Region of Murcia                                                                       19
1.2.1. DIFFERENTIATING ELEMENTS
Calasparra rice stands out for its extraordinary quality, which becomes evident by the
hardness and taste of the grain.

The traditional farming system, where plots of land are terraced without being swamped, the
altitude of the Reserve, in an environment 400 meters above sea level, the use of clean and
cold water and the rice crop rotation, result in a dehydrated product, which requires more
water and more cooking time. However, it comes out as an outstanding ingredient in any
culinary recipe because the grains are soft and do not stick together.

All the production is carefully monitored, both in the farming stage as in the selection
and packing one, by the Regulatory Body, which has its own laboratory and a technical
control and counseling team to assist them in their task. This way, food safety and traceability
of all marketed rice is guaranteed.

The seeds used are the result of a controlled process of selection and maintenance which fully
guarantees the continuity of the different traditional varieties.

The beautiful presentation of the rice in handmade fabric sacks, sealed and numbered
with a label issued by the Regulatory Body, identify and differentiate this exclusive product in
the market.
Rice with the Calasparra Designation of Origin is high quality food with a limited production,
cultivated in a privileged environment and present in the most demanding markets where it
confidently competes and where it is clearly differentiated because of its unique presentation.

1.3 CANNED VEGETABLES AND JUICES

The production of canned vegetables and juices is one of the traditional industrial activities,
very dynamic and deeply rooted in the Region of Murcia. It is the most important food and
agriculture industry in Murcia, with a very important weight in the economy as a whole and in
the regional employment. It also is the main canning sector in the country.

The origins of the canning activity go back to the 19th century, in little craft workrooms
spread throughout the farms. In 1897, the first industrial factory of this kind was set up in
Alcantarilla, joined at the beginning of the 20th century by other factories in the Medium and
Low Meadows of the Segura River. The first manufacturers produced mainly cans of semi-
processed apricot, using the high quality variety “búlida”, which can only be grown in the
weather and environmental conditions of the Region.

Back in the origins of this industrial activity, the main destiny of the production was, as it is
still today, the export to European countries, mainly France and Belgium, where they were
highly appreciated because of their smell, taste and texture.

During the first half of the 20th century, there was not any relevant increase in the range of
products offered. The beginning of the second half of the century marks, on the contrary, the
development of this product which established a double target: on the one hand, the
transformation of new fruit and vegetable varieties such as peaches, pears, plums,


Facts Region of Murcia                                                                        20
artichokes, peppers and tomatoes and, on the other hand, the production of consumer goods
with a higher added value, such as fruits in syrup and vegetable in water, in order to
complement the traditional semi-manufactured products which were destined to be exported
to European industries. The production of juice and jam, pickles, citrus, frozen goods and
other presentations were also gradually introduced.

These two lines of development were reinforced during the last few decades. This helped to
create a consolidated and strong industrial sector which is well-positioned in the national
market and in the most demanding international markets. It offers such a wide range of
manufactured foodstuffs, that it has transcended, by far, the traditional concept of regional
canned food.

Nowadays, there are almost a hundred canning companies operating in the Region of Murcia,
with a yearly turnover of about 1.000 million euros. 40% of that quantity comes from the
export activity, following the traditional exporting tendency of this sector.

The main destiny of our exports is the countries in the European Union and in North America,
where high levels of quality and guarantee are required. There are also exports to other parts
of the world such as the Arab countries, South America, the North of Africa, Japan and other
areas in Asia.

At a regional scale, the canning industry has been the root and core for the development
of a productive system which has the characteristics of a complex and dynamic cluster,
comprising manufacturers of metallic packaging and cans, specialized graphic art companies,
machinery manufacturers, facilities and equipment, producers and marketing agents of food
ingredients and additives, specific logistic services, marketing and exporting support services,
specialized technical and scientific centers, organizations, associative entities, etc...
By being the core of a large and dynamic cluster, the canning sector achieves its real
dimension as the regional economic driving force. This empowers it to cause a multiplying
positive effect.

1.3.1. BUSINESS ORGANIZATION

This sector consists of about 100 companies manufacturing canned vegetables, fruit drinks
and juices, jams and preserves, frozen vegetables, olives, pickles and other similar products.
Its average dimension is relatively high.
Structurally speaking, there is a group comprising 15 or 20 of the most important
traditional canning industries, with a turnover which ranges between 40 to 50% of the total.
They are companies which are focused on large distribution of food at an international level,
with a product line centered in varieties with a high manufacturing level: artichoke, peach,
tangerine, tomato, apricot, strawberry and pear. They supply, on the one hand, with
manufactured goods for consume, such as fruits in syrup and vegetables in cans of small
format, juices and jams in cartons or glass containers and, on the other hand, goods for the
second manufacturing industry such as fruit pulps, ulnas and cremogenated.

Other traditional canning companies, of smaller relative size, supply the market with
specialized products which have a smaller absolute volume. Some of these firms are
specialists in several fruit and vegetable varieties, in some kinds of purée, concentrates and


Facts Region of Murcia                                                                       21
extracts, in sauces and other exceptional products such as snails, sweet pumpkin filling, sweet
potato pastries, gazpacho and potato and soy snacks.

Companies manufacturing juices and jams make up an outstanding sector, including some of
the largest and more promising business organizations in the national market, which have
their own brand and an important presence in the main trade channels. Together with these
companies, which are focused on consumer goods, there are other companies which main
activity is to supply other industries, especially the citric one.

The olive and pickle companies constitute another specialized sub-sector. Some of the main
national producers of olives and pickled vegetables, as well as the most important
manufactures of capers and similar products, are based in the Region of Murcia.

The production of frozen vegetables and fruits underwent a swift increase, followed by a
period of stability and maturity when an important number of companies in the Region of
Murcia have been consolidated. Companies manufacturing ready-to-serve meals and
precooked dishes are in a similar situation.

The maturity and complexity of the industrial organization causes certain companies or
corporate groups to be involved in more than one of the strategic groups above mentioned,
either by direct transformation of many processed products or by marketing a wide range of
goods.

Most companies in the sector are members of the Association of Canning Professionals for
Alicante, Albacete and Murcia, an associative entity which has been operating, non-stop, for
over 75 years, providing its members with a wide number of services. There are also
representative associations of Specialized sub-sectors such as the Association of Olives
Export and Industry of the Region of Murcia („Asociación del Olivo‟ - Olive Tree
Association).

1.3.2. PRODUCTION

Companies in this sector make a wide variety of semi-manufactured and finished products
which can be categorized according to different criteria. If we consider their commercial use,
there are three groups which are:

Products with an industrial use: These are semi-manufactured goods which are purchased by
other industrial companies in order to use them as basic goods in their manufacturing process.
The most traditional ones are pulps, fruit halves, fruit pieces, cremogenated and juices, canned
in 5Kg. tins, in drums and, more rarely, in bulk in tanks. There is currently an important
development of semi-manufactured goods in aseptic containers.

Products to be used by “Horecas”: These products will be used by restaurants, hotels and
catering trade companies and by traditional manufacturers, purchasing medium size
containers: 3 Kg and 100 oz. (A10), although occasionally, for certain products, they can use
5Kg cans or sacks or even 1Kg ones.




Facts Region of Murcia                                                                       22
Domestic Consumption Products: These are products which come in small cans, jars or
cartons to be used at home. The most common formats are the ½ Kg, 11 oz. and 1 Kg ones,
and the marketing of these products is done, mainly, through large international chains.

Depending on the transformed raw material and the way it is manufactured, the following
classification can be established:

Fruits (syrup, pulps and in-water): Apricots, Cherries, Plums, Fruit cocktail, Fruit Salad,
Figs, Mixed fruits, Tangerine, Apples, Peach, Melon, Pear, Pineapple, Fruit pulp and Grapes.

Vegetables: Swiss chards, Garlic, Artichokes, Celery, Broccoli, Courgette(Zucchini),
Mushroom, Cabbage and Cauliflower, Onion, Asparagus, Peas, Green beans, Mixed
vegetables, Corn, Vegetables Macedonia, Palm hearts, Peppers, Beetroots, Flap mushroom,
Carrots, Ratatouille, lightly fried and fully fried vegetables.

Tomato: Peeled natural Tomato, Chopped peeled tomato, Fried tomato and Tomato
concentrate.

Juices, drinks, crushes and sub-products: Nectars, Fruit juices, essential Oils, refreshing
beverages, Concentrates, Purées, Cremogenated, Extracts and Essences.

Jams and preserves: Fruit preserves, Fruit jams, sugar-free preserves and sugar-free jams.

Oils and pickles: Olives, Capers, Banderillas (Pickled gherkins, onions, etc served in a
cocktail stick), Pickles, Chilies, Gherkins and other varieties.

Sauces: Ketchup, Mayonnaise, Mustard and Pepper.

Various: Food for children, Rice, Shakes, Snails, Sweet pumpkin pastries, Salads, Nuts and
dried fruits, Gazpacho, Infusions, Legumes, Paella, Precooked dishes, Frozen products,
Fillings for baking, Sangria, Potato and soy snack.

The emergence of new products as well as new manufacturing and presentation ways,
marks the main tendency in the development of the sector. This dynamic comes together
along with a remarkable breakthrough of technological innovations in the production
process, which causes the sector to reach high mechanization and automation levels compared
to other canning sectors.

Some companies in the sector offer aseptic products one of the most outstanding
innovations, with cold and continuous fillings in flexible containers of a better quality. This
satisfies the most demanding clients in the international market, providing them with
consumption goods (“cartons”) and with semi-manufactured industrial goods (“bag in box”).
The traditional framework, limited to the tin can and the glass jar, widens with the application
of this technology.

The CTC, which is the National Technological Canning Center located in Molina de
Segura, plays an important role in this experimenting and innovating dynamic to improve the
product as well as the process. It has analysis facilities which meet the highest standards, with


Facts Region of Murcia                                                                        23
a state of the art pilot plant and with sophisticated assistance, information, documentation and
training services. The staff at the Center can be considered as one of the most experimented
and largest in their field.

1.3.3. DIFFERENTIATING ELEMENTS
The whole of the canning sector in Murcia, particularly the largest companies, have made a
big effort in order to update their facilities, their production line and their manufacturing
procedures, so that they can fully meet the most demanding international health and
quality standards.

The application of systems of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) is a
common practice among manufacturers. 25% of the companies which represent more than
60% of the regional production have quality assurance systems certified according to ISO
9000 Regulations. All the medium size companies have their own laboratory and use the
services provided by the Technological Center on regular basis.

All this has taken this sector to guarantee high standards in food safety, traceability and
quality, as opposed to other competitors which are less reliable.

The companies included in this sector are really concerned about guaranteeing that their
industrial activity is environmentally friendly. Thus, all companies take part in the
“integrated system for waste management” (green point) with Ecoenves or Ecovidrio and
most of them have signed the Collaboration Agreement to environmentally adequate the
canning sector in the Region of Murcia..

The first systems of environmental management have also been certified according to ISO
14000 regulations, and some companies have introduced integrated quality, environmental
and safety systems, in line with the most updated tendencies.

Product innovation and the integration of new technologies to the production process
improve the competitive position of this sector, and allow companies to satisfy international
demand, both for highly demanded consumption goods as well as for selected specialties.

The sector of canned vegetables and juices in the Region of Murcia faces the future with total
confidence, supported by its proven capability to:
    1. Manufacture food products with the highest quality, guarantee and safety
    2. Adopting processes which are environmentally friendly.
    3. Use the very best in technology.

These competitive factors consolidate its well-known position in the most demanding
international markets.




Facts Region of Murcia                                                                       24
1.4. LEMON

Fresh lemons and their industrial by-products constitute an agricultural and business reality in
the Region of Murcia, making up a sector with its own entity in the context of the agrarian
and agro-food production.

Producing with the highest quality and concern for the environment, preserving the
inherent nutritional and health characteristics are premises of the lemon sector in Murcia,
which is made up of cooperatives, exporters and manufacturers. More than 50% of the
Spanish lemon production takes place in Murcia, where the temperature, humidity, altitude
and the characteristics of the soil, together with the enterprising character and illusion of its
people, make it possible to obtain a truly natural treasure for people‟s health. Endless efforts
are aimed at achieving constant upgrading by means of improving different varieties,
optimizing water sources and utilizing the adequate nutrients. This way, a natural and healthy
product, either fresh or as juice and its by products, can be put into the market.

Lemons have been grown in Murcia since immemorial times, and thus its well-earned
commercial recognition in the national and international market.

More than 25.000Ha of regional extension are used to grow this citric variety, with an average
production of about 500.000 tons per year, most of which, 70% to 75%, are exported. The
main foreign markets for fresh lemons are the EC countries, which absorb 60% of the volume
of exports, Russia and Eastern Europe, U.S.A., Canada and Japan.

The group of fresh lemon and grapefruit producers and exporters: More than 60
companies based in the Region of Murcia. Many of these operate as cooperatives, with an
average size that is relatively large, allowing them to maintain productive and commercial
structures which are competitive in the international context.

Lemon juice and its by- products are a necessary complement for the competitiveness of the
sector. Apart from the juice, the manufacturing industry in Murcia also produces essential oils
and pulps. More than 90% of lemon processed products are exported to countries in the
European Union, being Germany the most important client.

The lemon processing industry of the Region consists of 11 companies which process about
20% of the agricultural production. Most of these companies also make juices and crushes of
other citric and fruit varieties.

The creation in 1998 of AILIMPO, which is the name of the Lemon and Grapefruit Inter-
professional Association, based in Murcia and operating at a national scale, has had a clear
dynamic effect. It is also highly representative in the sector and has become a first stage in the
coordination of the business organization.


1.4.1. THE PRODUCT: MURCIAN LEMON AND HEALTH

The lemon is one of the main sour products grown in Spain. Its use and consume is as old as
varied. It is used not just to obtain concentrates, juices and nectars, but also in meals, drinks


Facts Region of Murcia                                                                         25
and jams, clearly ranking as one of the most popular citric fruits in the world thanks to its
medicinal properties.

Apart from high levels of vitamin C, lemons contain a high number of nutrients such as citric
acid, ascorbic acid, minerals and flavones. Although the new citric varieties have been
selected and developed basically to be consumed fresh, they are increasingly being used in the
pharmaceutical, agricultural and food industry. This flexibility of use is possible due to the
particular characteristics of the secondary metabolism of the Citrus kind, which is rich in
flavones.

Flavonone, both hesperidin and diosmine, have a positive effect on vascular activity and
health, providing important pharmacological uses.

There are three lemon varieties grown in the Region of Murcia: Primofiori, Verna and
Verdelli.

Primofiori Lemon: a Spanish variety which probably comes from the germination of a
common lemon seed from the High Meadows of the Segura River. Its size is slightly smaller
than the one of the Verna kind, with a thinner and smoother rind, no neck in the peduncle and
the apical mamelon is sharp and small. It has a high juice content.

Verna Lemon: The origin of this variety is unknown, although it has never been grown
outside Spain. The Verna tree is big and usually blooms twice a year, though, at times, it
bears a third time which is known as Verdelli or Rodrejos. The main Verna crop includes
fruits of a “medium-big” size, with a pronounced nipple and a well formed neck. Its rind is
thick, slightly bumpy and irregular. Its juice content is less than in other varieties, but the pulp
is tender and the juice has a nice acidity. It has few seeds.

Verdelli Lemon: This name is given to fruits resulting from the second blooming, or summer
blooming, of the Verna lemon tree. They are more round and their rind is smoother and
thinner than the one in the Verna variety. It is virtually seedless and is harvested in the
summer.

Consuming lemon has the following beneficial effects for people‟s health:
 Strengthens the immune system, the connective tissue, the hair and the nails.
 Stimulates the production of gastric acid.
 Improves the protein state in the organism and revitalizes.
 Optimizes the use of iron content for cellular respiration.
 Activates calcium metabolism for bones and teeth.
 Strengthens blood vessels and heals gum hemorrhages.
 Favors cell increase and has a rejuvenating effect.
 Liberates lipids and helps in slimming diets.

Some of the most modern facilities for processing lemons and grapefruit are located in the
Region of Murcia. It is an industry which is known for its constant attempts to incorporate
new technologies, maintaining a permanent concern for improvement and trying to assure
quality and competitiveness..



Facts Region of Murcia                                                                           26
Using up-to-date equipment and technology, these industries obtain the following products:

Fruit juice: Obtained from citric fruit by mechanical pressure. It is fresh juice, pulp free,
centrifuged, pasteurized, evaporated and cooled. Then it is put in drums which are frozen
either in drums with aseptic bags or refrigerated in bulk. Depending on what clients ask for,
the Murcian industry is capable of producing different levels of brix, acidity, pulp, etc.

Essential Oils: They are extracted from oil cells located in the flavedo of citric fruits. The
essential oil is recuperated by centrifuging, then it is dewaxed and filtered. Finally, it is kept
in barrels.

Pulps: They are obtained from a pulp extraction system, classifying, washing and pasteurizing
the different pulp cells which are later stored in drums with an aseptic bag.

1.4.2. DIFFERENTIATING ELEMENTS
In the context of international competitiveness, which is more global and open everyday, the
Murcian lemon offers itself as a product characterized by its quality which is a guarantee of
health.

Agricultural producers have committed to implement a controlled production which complies
with the UNE 150.000 regulations. They have also committed to assure traceability, monitor
the post-harvest stage and to strictly meet the demands of top regulations in private quality
standards (Eurep, …). Thus, Lemons from Murcia easily comply with the most
challenging phytosanitary and technical obstacles set by the main commercial areas in the
world, such as the European Union, the U.S.A. and Japan.

In line with the tendencies of the food and agriculture cluster, the processing industry has
fully implemented the HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) systems.
Moreover, the certification of quality assurance systems complying with ISO 9.000
regulations has become a widespread practice and a systematic improvement process for the
environment has been initiated. This way, the most demanding European markets, as far as
control levels are concerned, are offered the highest traceability, quality and health
guarantees

Lemon industrial by-products have positive development prospects, both in the food sector as
in the pharmaceutical one. The technological development and innovation are the main
factors which contribute to empower the essential capability of the regional industry. In this
way, it can hold its solid position in tomorrow‟s market.




Facts Region of Murcia                                                                         27
1.5. HONEY
Honey is one of the most complete and balanced foodstuffs that there is in Nature. These
qualities, along with the beneficial effects on health, the fact that it can be easily preserved
and its wonderful taste, explain why honey is one of the most traditional products in the
Mediterranean diet.
The Region of Murcia, especially its inland territory, has the perfect weather conditions
and habitat for the development of apiculture and for the production of top-quality
honey. There are traces and pieces of archeological information which prove the existence,
back in Roman times, of honey farms in this area.
The honey market, in accordance with widespread tendencies at an international level for
foodstuffs, is immersed in an obvious process of globalization and technological change
within in a market where the presence of honey suppliers from developing countries is on the
rise. Despite that, honey from the Region of Murcia has been able to hold its solid competitive
position in the national market, and it has also achieved remarkable exports, mainly to the
most demanding countries in the European Union: France, Italy, Germany and the United
Kingdom.
Regional honey production is, depending on the season, between 2.000 and 2.500 tons a year,
with a turnover of almost 5 million euros. Its canned and marketed quantities are even higher.


1.5.1 PRODUCTION AND BUSINESS ORGANIZATION
The number of beehives in the Region of Murcia goes up to about 150.000. The need to
achieve a high output and to optimize the production capability has spread the use of
transhumance apiculture, in which beehives continuously change location in order to adapt to
the best agricultural and forest cycles.
In the Region of Murcia, there are two kinds of honey which stand out because of their
recognized and appreciated quality in the most demanding markets: lemon blossom
honey, which can only be produced in a lemon growing area like this one, and rosemary
honey, which comes from inland forests of medium altitude where scrubland is widely
spread. These are the two kinds of honey included in the main export batches. Seasonally,
other varieties like the highly appreciated albaida honey and other aromatic ones are produced
and bottled. Its production volume is smaller.
In line with the most spread demand among the most important distribution chains, the more
commercial honey “mil flores” (“a thousand flowers”) is produced, bottled and marketed.
In spite of being a very traditional product, the regional honey sector incorporates
remarkable innovation and technological developments. Let us mention here the European
project “Development of immunochemical drug residue screening methods in honey
(Inmunobees)”, led by a regional company of the sector – Internatura, S.L. – and by the
National Technological Center of Canned Food and Foodstuffs, located in Molina de Segura.
Some European research centers and industries of the sector from four European countries as
well as three different universities also participate in this project.
Other apiculture by-products, with an increasing level of acceptance in the market, are pollen
and royal jelly, both produced and bottled by the main manufacturers in Murcia.



Facts Region of Murcia                                                                       28
Honey is produced, generally speaking, by small apiarists in family exploitation farms,
with many characteristics inherent to rural homemade activities. There is an estimated number
of over a hundred apiarists in the Region of Murcia.
Honey bottling and marketing is less dispersed. The cooperative regional movement has
taken most of the honey that is to be bottled to the Agricultural Cooperative in Totana S.C.L.
(COATO). There, together with a wide range of fresh and processed agriculture and food
products, it is produced in technologically developed facilities which have a certified
integrated system of quality assurance (ISO 9000) and environmental management (ISO
14000). Later, COATO also markets the product.
There is a small and specialized group of bottling apiarists who are in the market too. They
are oriented to very specific markets where homemade bottling and designation of origin are
highly appreciated. Their unitary volume is small.
The structure of this sector is completed with industrial companies which do not have their
own beehives. Their activity is based on the production and bottling of honey and other by-
products.
Producing apiarists are mainly represented by the AARM, the Apiarists Association of the
Region of Murcia, integrated in the COAG-IR (coordination of farmers and cattle farmers,
rural initiative) and by the AMAP, the Murcian Association of Professional Apiarists,
which is integrated in the ASAJA (agrarian association for young farmers).


1.5.2. DIFFERENTIATING ELEMENTS
The Region of Murcia provides with the perfect ecological, environmental and weather
conditions for the production of high quality honey. A large group of experienced and
specialized apiarists and the necessary industrial capability to produce and bottle honey in
the perfect conditions of guarantee and health are other valuable assets of the Region.
Thus, lemon blossom honey, rosemary honey and, to a lesser extent, albaida honey and
other aromatic honeys, have earned their recognition in the most demanding international
markets, achieving a solid and competitive commercial position.
In order to reinforce this situation on the medium and long term, Murcian apiculture promotes
and takes part in projects which are clearly innovative, applying advanced process
technologies in the production and bottling stages.




Facts Region of Murcia                                                                     29
1.6. FRESH FARMING PRODUCTS

The Region of Murcia is internationally well-known by the quality of its fruits and vegetables.
Environmental, ecological and weather conditions are particularly favorable for
farming, both extensive and intensive (high crop yield). People from Murcia have gained,
throughout history, a large experience and an ancient knowledge of farming methods. Those
parts of the Region which are closer to the coast, with a warmer weather, are better for
growing tomato and vegetables – lettuce, pepper, broccoli,…– in a yearly cycle which
includes all four seasons. The Meadows of the Segura River and its main tributaries:
Guadalentín, Mula, Argos, Quipar, ..., not only help maintain traditional farms, but they are
also great citric producers –lemon, orange, tangerine,... -, fruit trees – apricot, peach,
nectarine, plum, cherry -, dessert grapes and other products with a smaller production volume
but with an exceptional level of quality such as rice or peppers used for paprika. Vine, almond
trees, olive trees and cereals – wheat, barley, oats,..- are grown in the inland areas, where
there is a medium altitude and the weather is continental. Finally, in the mountains near the
Region‟s border, there are aromatic plants and forest farms which complete the wide range of
farming products in Murcia.
The history of the Region of Murcia is closely related to its agricultural richness. The most
fertile valleys have been inhabited since prehistoric times and all the great classical
Mediterranean cultures intensively traded with agricultural goods from Murcia.
Nowadays, fresh farming products are at the core of a consolidated productive system of
great dimensions, which includes many other related sectors such as: agro-chemistry,
agricultural technology and equipment, water and organic irrigation, specialized logistic
services and transports, plastics, greenhouses construction, industrial cold, cans, elements for
biological campaigns, environmental control facilities, seeds and seedbeds, substrates, waste
treatment and management, etc. Other activities related to the productive system are:
specialized computer counseling and assistance, agronomical training, commercial and export
consulting, specialized publications and other support services. This agriculture and food
cluster is known for its dynamism, its high levels of innovation and technology and its
capacity to satisfy the expectations of the most demanding markets.
Within this wide system, several fresh and processed goods have formed well defined sectors
with their own competitive dynamic: wine, olive oil, paprika, lemon and its by-products, rice,
honey, etc.. The regional industry of canned vegetables, juices, frozen products and drinks, all
derived from agricultural production, has now gone pass its original root and has become a
large and complex production system on its own. Ties and interrelations between all the
elements of the regional food and agriculture organization strengthen its competitiveness and
allow the development of located knowledge, with high potential growth.
Fresh vegetables and fruit production, not including processed goods, are estimated to take
600.000 hectares of the Region‟s land, with an approximate production of 2.600.000 tons a
year. Total sales of these fresh products are, depending on the season, around 1.100-1.300
million euros a year.
Most of the fresh agricultural production from Murcia is exported, about 80% of the
turnover. Countries in the European Union are the main clients, representing more than 85%
of the exports, and the rest of it is exported to East and Central European countries and, in
smaller quantities, to Japan and the U.S.A.


Facts Region of Murcia                                                                       30
The importance of farming in the life of people from Murcia transcends the economic context,
reflecting on their habits and ways of living. All around the Region there are fiestas and other
forms of folklore which have to do with the different crops for each area. It influence is also
reflected upon people‟s diet and even in their way of talking. Green tourism is keeping up and
spreading this culture beyond rural areas.


1.6.1. BUSINESS ORGANIZATION
There are two kinds of exploitation, with a different business approach, which coexist in the
farming activity.
The typical smallholding in areas of irrigation crops still has a large number of small
individual farms, although nowadays is quite normal that their owners do not work the land
as their main way of living, but as a complementary resource for their families. Due to the
significant associative and cooperative activity, these farming goods, in practice, reach the
market through medium and large entities which have their own productive structures for
storing and canning, logistic equipment and professional counseling and marketing staff. This
way, the high fragmentation found in the cropping stage becomes relatively concentrated
when dealing with third parties.
Regional farms with a business nature have, on the contrary, a relatively large size.
They normally grow intensive crops in hundreds or even thousands of hectares, with high
technological and professional levels and with the presence of business groups operating at a
regional, national and international scale.
All this complex business organization is quite structured. Many small farmers are
members of the main agricultural trade unions, widely representative of the Region, and they
are also associated to cooperatives which help them market their production, provide with
counseling services and, at times, technical support and supplies. Agrarian cooperatives have
two associations at a regional level: the FECOAM, Federation of Agrarian Cooperatives
in Murcia and FECAMUR, Federation of Agrarian Cooperative Associations in Murcia.
The Organizations of Fruit and Vegetable Producers (OPFH) are represented by the AMOPA,
Murcian Association of Agrarian Producers Organization , Cooperatives and S.A.T. ,
with most of its members being also associated to one of the previously mentioned
organizations.
The farming companies which are not integrated in cooperatives are represented by two
regional organizations: the PROEXPORT, Association of Fruit and Vegetables Producers
and Exporters of the Region of Murcia, integrated mainly by vegetable, tomato, melon and
watermelon producers, and the APOEXPA, Association of de Producers and Exporters of
Fruits, Dessert Grapes and other Agricultural Products, integrated by producers of stone
fruits, dessert grapes, citruses and, to a lesser extend, watermelon, melon and vegetables.
Apart from the above mentioned representative agrarian organizations, the organic structure
of the regional and local Administration reflects the importance of this productive system in
its socioeconomic context, with organizations and departments which are specialized in
agriculture, water, irrigation, the food and agriculture industry, etc.
In the Region there are important scientific and technological centers, private and
public, directly connected with this system: Center of Applied Edaphology and Biology
(CEBAS-CSIC), Center of Food and Agriculture Development and Research (CIDA) of the


Facts Region of Murcia                                                                       31
Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Environment, National Technological Center of Canned
Food and Foodstuffs (CTC), Agrarian and Environmental Laboratory (LAYMA), Training
and Research Center for intensive crops of Advanced Technology (CIFACITA), etc. Quite
regularly, there are also fairs of agrarian technology and food in Torre Pacheco and there are
specialized professional and higher training centers, like the Integrated Centers of Agrarian
Experiences and Training located in Jumilla, Lorca, Molina de Segura and Torre Pacheco
and, with the highest academic standards, the Agronomic Engineering School in the Technical
University of Cartagena.
Other initiatives are those trying to establish ties between the agrarian production and the
related supplying sectors, which normally have their own representative institutions.
The agricultural production from Murcia, a large cluster with a complex and dynamic
structure, is characterized by the sectorial and intersectorial relations and its by relations with
the social and economic environment.


1.6.2. PRODUCTION
The range of Murcian farming products is very wide. The ones with more production
volume can be grouped as follows:
-Fruits: apricot, peach, nectarine, cherry, plum, pear, apple, strawberry, pomegranate, figs,
etc., with a large variety for each one of them.
-Dessert grapes: with and without seed.
-Melon and watermelon: different varieties.
-Citruses: lemon – which together with its by-products forms a well defined sector, of great
regional importance – orange, tangerine and grapefruit.
-Vegetables: lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, artichoke, pepper, celery, onion, cabbage,
aubergine(egg-plant), courgette(zucchini), asparagus, endive, etc., with different varieties.
-Tomato: different kinds, with a production cycle that lasts basically the whole year.
-Nuts and dried fruits: mainly almonds.


Other important products which have become specific sectors due to their particular
characteristics are: grapes for wine; rice; olives, mainly used for oil and canned food; round
pepper for paprika and honey. Other fresh agrarian products with a smaller relative volume
but worth mentioning are cotton and cereals and there are also some wood exploitations,
especially pine tree ones.
In line with the most developed consumer tendencies, a small but increasing proportion of the
production follows the criteria of organic farming. This means that the products are
supervised by the Organic Farming Body as the consultative body of the Administration,
which distinctively labels them. This group of fresh products, together with those processed
under the same criteria, make up an emerging sector with its own dynamic.
Integrated Farming Practices are widely spread in the whole of the agricultural production
in the Region, following regional regulations, and certifying products according to the
most strict international regulations such as the UNE 155.000, Eurep-GAP, Assured


Facts Region of Murcia                                                                          32
Product Scheme (APS), etc. This way, the traceability of the whole cultivation, crop and
handling cycle and the health safety of the production are guaranteed.
The way the system is structured makes it easy for small producers to access complex services
and it also allows them to incorporate management systems, certifications and safety and
guarantee practices by means of common services. This contributes to spread good practices
to the whole of the agricultural organization in the region.
Facilities where handling, canning and the first processing of the product takes place have
also moved forward in the certification of quality assurance systems according to ISO 9000
Regulations. They have also started processes in order to introduce environmental
management systems to comply with ISO 14.000 and EMAS. Actually, the first fruit and
vegetable plant in Spain to ever meet these standards is located here in the Region.
The environmental concern and implication of Murcian agriculture goes beyond the
certification of a system. Thus, different agreements for oil and can collecting, environmental
counseling and improvement in Nature conservation practices are also established.
Most farms in the Region of Murcia have incorporated the most advanced cultivation, crop
and handling technologies.
The special attention paid to making the most of available water has led to a massive
implementation of localized irrigation systems, both in vegetable and fruit plantations. These
basic irrigation systems have been the stepping stone for the introduction of advanced organic
irrigation and treatment equipment and, if necessary, biological and climatic control
equipment, most of them with automatic and computerized systems of regulation and control.
This process of technological integration has helped the development of a regional
technological sector, dynamic and innovative, which fully satisfies the demand of local
agricultural producers, helping them to expand their market to other agrarian national and
international areas.
The technical, scientific and university centers previously mentioned work in innovation
and intensive research, normally collaborating with representative associations,
institutions and related sectors. As a result of these projects, new varieties have been
introduced which have adapted well to the regional environment and weather. Another
consequence of these projects has been the development of innovative techniques and
improvement practices which are intended to satisfy the requirements of international
markets. There are several experimental farms, demonstration and experimentation centers
and testing fields for agrarian innovation.
The systematic implementation in the whole productive system of the above mentioned
innovation policy, technological development, food health and guarantee and integrated
production means that fresh farming products from Murcia are going beyond the quality and
phytosanitary barriers established by the most demanding international markets. This all
contributes to help these kind of products to consolidate their well earned reputation for
quality.




Facts Region of Murcia                                                                      33
1.6.3. DIFFERENTIATING ELEMENTS
Murcian farming production is the central core of a wide and dynamic system and it is
also a meeting point for a large number of related and derived sectors, public and private
organizations and institutions, counseling services and other large systems. The intense
interrelations between all these elements generate the development of localized knowledge,
almost unreachable for others, and favors innovation, cooperation and the growth of the
cluster.
The business organization is diverse and very structured in all its levels, with a wide
presence of cooperative and associative entities which commercially concentrate production.
We can also find business organizations as well as scientific, technological and training
centers of international reputation and their related public and private organizations.
The farming production in the Region of Murcia is known for its wide product range, its
excellent quality and the guarantee of its food health and traceability. This is assured by
means of widespread practices of integrated and controlled agriculture which comply with
the most demanding international regulations. The large volume of exports, mainly oriented
to European markets, and the solid position of companies from the Region in this sector,
assure the compliance of Murcian fruits and vegetables with the most challenging demands.
The most advanced innovation and technology are part of the farming activity in Murcia in
the cultivation, crop and handling stages. Constant improvement and a systematic progress
integration is aimed for by means of, on the one hand, a constant concern to make the most of
available water and, on the other, active participation of the technical, scientific and university
centers from the region, the dynamic technological sector and also the cooperation of farmers.




Facts Region of Murcia                                                                          34

				
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