Monday, September 25

Fuente de Cantos will have the largest pistachio processing plant in the region

Assembly of pistachio cooperatives held last Saturday in Fuente de Cantos. TODAY

The plant, with which we want to respond to the increase in production, will have an investment of 1.3 million euros and could be operating in the fall of 2023

Jose Miguel Amaya

The town of Fuente de Cantos will finally have a pistachio processing plant with an investment of 1.3 million euros. This was decided by the majority of the Extremeña Pistachio Agro-Food Cooperative Society in the assembly that was held last Saturday in the same town and to which its 76 partners, who have just over 800 hectares, were summoned.

The processing plant could be operating in the fall of 2023 and with it the aim is to respond to the increase in production that other plants cannot assume, since so that the pistachio is not affected, “from the moment it is picked from the tree until it is peeled and dried has a maximum time of 24 hours, “says Rogelio Guardado, secretary of the cooperative

Although pistachio production in Extremadura is still residual compared to other regions, each year new hectares are added. At present, this fruit is grown in areas such as Campiña Sur and Las Vegas del Guadiana, later also in the region of Tentudía, Vilafranca and Navalmoral.

The goal at the regional level, says Rogelio Guardado, “is for the farmer to be able to handle the product: process it, peel it, dry it, select it and look for large European or Spanish customers. Since there are no plants to process, you cannot depend on others. It is about giving out the fruit ».

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One of the peculiarities of the pistachio is the need for the product to be processed quickly from its harvest, due to the humidity of the fruit that makes it exposed to the proliferation of fungi. Counting within a radius of kilometers not far from processing plants is essential.

Thus, the plant would offer temporary work for four people during the campaign time and for the rest of the year one person -or two- in principle. In the year 2028, you could employ between ten and twelve people throughout the year and still have reinforcement in campaign time.

It would be the first processing plant in Extremadura with the capacity to collect pistachios from the region. The pistachio is the woody crop that has grown the most in recent years and the processing plants do not have the capacity for what is currently being produced, because new hectares come into production every year.

The plants begin to produce pistachios that can be sold after six years. “Until then, they are just an investment that must be maintained,” which is why Rogelio Guardado points out that the cooperative is open to new members because, although now they only think about “carrying out the plantation, they will soon find themselves in the position of placing the product ».

That would be the main reason why the Association of Pistachio Producers in Extremadura (Propistaex), has 130 members and about 80 of them belong to the cooperative. Therefore, they are looking for new cooperative farmers from neighboring provinces and even from Portugal to join the project.

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The commitment of the region’s farmers to nuts comes at a time when new eating habits are increasing the demand for these products. Extremadura has also begun to discover the potential of this crop in recent years, to add more of 1,300 hectares, but it is only the beginning.

Guarda points out that in the Kerman variety, the product is sold in shell with certain organoleptic characteristics, “for which specialized machinery is needed so that the product comes out with quality.” In Extremadura there are currently more than 46,000 hectares. But we are producers of 0.8% of the world pistachio. “Either we’re going with a quality product or we can’t get anywhere, so we need to come together.”

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