The Agricultural Census published by the Andalusian Institute of Statistics and Cartography of Andalusia (IECA) at the end of July provides a revealing comparative picture of the agricultural sector in the Campo de Gibraltar between 2009 (the last published edition) and 2020 (the year to which the data in this summer's edition correspond). Without a doubt, the most striking data in this comparison is the extension of organic farming, which multiplies by almost eight in that decade.
So, in July 2009, out of the 60,787.6 hectares dedicated to agricultural holdings in the region, only 5,098.2 were dedicated to organic crops, which was 8.39% of the total. Ten years later, they occupy 39,316.5 out of a total of 71,639.9 hectares, which is 54.88% of the total space dedicated to the sector. In this way, if the total extension dedicated to the agricultural sector has grown by 17.85% in a decade, within the same sector, organic crop extension has increased by a staggering 671.18%.
This increase in agricultural space is also accompanied by an increase in the number of farms, which has risen by 38 in a decade, from 853 in 2009 to 891 in the year 2020. Algeciras and La Línea are the only municipalities losing farms (not space for the sector, which is growing in all municipalities except Los Barrios), along with Jimena, which has six fewer, largely due to the separation of Tesorillo, which has 17 farms. However, the municipality of Jimena, with 292 farms, has the highest number in the region, followed by Tarifa (284). Together, these two municipalities account for almost two-thirds of the total in the region. Los Barrios, with 16 more farms in those ten years (114 in total), and San Roque, with 18 more (83), show the most exponential growth in the number of agricultural farms.
The increase in agricultural space is reflected in both herbaceous crops, which gain almost 26% of surface area to surpass 8,822 hectares in 2020, and woody crops, which increase by almost 8% to reach nearly 2,737 hectares.
On the contrary, greenhouse crops barely cover 11.7 hectares in the region, 1.1 less than the 12.8 they occupied in 2009.
Dominant crops remain the same in the region as in the previous Agricultural Census, although in both cases, the trend in their numbers is downward. On one hand, citrus cultivation is predominant, with around 1,500 hectares dedicated to it. The significant newcomer in herbaceous crops is perennial green forage, which reaches nearly three thousand hectares in the region.
Regarding livestock, bovine cattle remain predominant, with more than 35,000 heads, a figure that in 2009 was close to 38,000. Poultry reaches 10,000 only in La Línea.
Employment in the agricultural sector has followed the growth data of farms. After overcoming ups and downs, it has reached similar figures to those of a decade ago, with a slight increase.
Thus, the total work-year units (UTAT) have grown by 7% in the region, going from 1,313.1 in the 2009 Agricultural Census to 1,405.1 in 2020. This is the main measure used in this study to assess the employment generated by this sector, which is a minority in the Campo de Gibraltar among the major areas used for labor statistics.
Regarding unemployment, in July 2009, the sector had 502 unemployed, which was 1.54% of the total. In the same month of 2020, the number rose to 801, which was 2.15% of the total unemployed in the region. Looking at the data from July 2023, the sector has recovered and now accounts for 1.74% of the total, with 517 unemployed.
As for the percentage of women leading farms in the region, their number has increased slightly, from 20.09% to 23.01% in the latest Agricultural Census.