The Platform for the Future of Agriculture of the Alto Vinalopó seeks social and political support, from institutions, town halls, organizations, irrigation communities from other regions and from citizens in order to lower the price of water in the Júcar transfer and avoid losing dand historical rights. Otherwise, the entity warns, the agricultural sector will end up succumbing to the lack of profitability, which will lead to the abandonment of crops and the consequent loss of employment and wealth for the entire province.
The problem lies in the proposals included in the Hydrological Plan of the Júcar Demarcation, in the review of the third cycle 2021-2027, due to the negative socioeconomic impact that many of them have for the farmers of Alto Vinalopó. Among the measures that the central government intends to apply is to multiply by four the price of the cost of irrigation water that is currently being paid in the region. They also want to reduce the assigned water rights and consumption ceilings in the coming years, in addition to restricting the use of surplus flows from the Júcar without guarantees and under burdensome conditions. “And all this – warn those affected – will fuel possible dynamics of speculation facilitating the auction and marketing of water with the consequent confrontations.”
That is why they classify it as the “greatest environmental problem in the Valencian Community” and demand that the responsible administrations facilitate a constructive dialogue and consider the best solutions, always listening to all parties affected by the problem.
“It is paradoxical that this territory, which has been exemplary for its solidarity for more than 100 years as well as for its efficient management of water use, continues to be the main victim of a plan that paradoxically seeks to avoid the overexploitation of our aquifers”, spokesman Pepe Micó Serra has pointed out.
For now, the Platform, which is made up of the Irrigation Communities of Villena, de la Huerta and Partidas, Pinar Alto, San Cristóbal de Villena and Valle de Benejama, has already held its first meeting with the attendance of those responsible for the largest surfaces irrigated crops -70% of the agriculture of Alto Vinalopó- and associations such as Young Farmers Asaja Alicante, El Salicornio Cultural Forum, Villena Economic and Social Forum and the Associations of Neighbors of Las Virtudes and Quite Corto-La Laguna. It is the first meeting of others who have planned in the coming weeks to continue informing economic, political and social forces of the problem in order to obtain support. In fact, some of the strategies and actions that have been proposed to be undertaken urgently involve contacting public institutions related to water to gain a presence at their tables, events and communications; collaborate with Asaja and other organizations related to the rural world of Alicante to know their perspective, explore shared solutions and complement their positions; put in value the legal arguments that support their allegations and justify their rights against the proposed Júcar Hydrological Plan; get in touch with other irrigation communities, inside and outside the Alto Vinalopó User Community, to share concerns and foster the spirit of collaboration; establish political contacts so that the different parties express their position and commitments, prepare a document that argues their interests and request the adhesion of organizations, institutions, municipalities and the general public as well as collaborate with the Economic and Social Forum to promote initiatives of citizen participation, such as the organization of the II Water Conference in continuity with that of 2017.
1,000 jobs and 50% of the agricultural area at risk
Applying the Júcar Hydrological Plan as proposed by the central government will mean for Alto Vinalopó in the short term a 60% reduction in the value of agricultural production, a 50% loss of irrigated crop area, a decrease of 17% of margins and an average drop, only in Villena, over a thousand direct jobs. In addition, the Platform for the Future of Agriculture of Alto Vinalopó adds to all this the lack of amortization of the investments made by many farmers, the paralysis of funds for innovation and the failed efforts to guarantee generational change.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.