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Areas Urbanism & territory, Tourism and Economic activities Agriculture, Livestock, Fishing & Hunting

Farmers return to Can Marroig

foto-visita-cultiu-can-marroig1The Formentera Council's president and rural affairs councillor met with two members of the Cooperativa del Camp, director Carlos Marí and chairman Jaume Escandell, along with Eivissa and Formentera's Ibanat delegate, Carolina Rodríguez, for a noon visit of the co-op's farming operations —a first— at Can Marroig.

CiF president Jaume Ferrer described Can Marroig as an “iconic local site long associated with agrarian activity”. Ferrer said agricultural work on the Can Marroig plots was abandoned “with the arrival of tourism” and that reviving traditional activity there has been “a goal of the Council's ever since the Govern balear purchased the property”.

Testing the waters
This week the “Farmers' Co-op” has sown the first two hectares' worth of native cereals, explained the Cooperativa's director, with plans to dedicate some of the harvest to making fodder. The rest will be given to islanders who say they need it. Marí indicated a pilot programme was in the works to plant aromatic herbs there.

For his part, rural affairs councillor Bartomeu Escandell spoke about the administration's commitment in recent years to reclaiming the countryside. Escandell pointed out that since its reactivation in 2015, the island's agrarian co-operative has received help in its efforts. Joint action initiatives have totalled €400,000, plus an industrial space was revamped to house the co-op and they have received roughly one million euros in machinery. The goal being, he said, “to continue promoting primary activity on the island”.

The Council, Govern balear and Ibanat, which owns the land, signed a deal in 2016 that made it possible to revive agrarian activity at Can Marroig.

Formentera offers 4 free courses for island's agrarian and livestock workers

foto vinya a-monteroThe Formentera Council's agriculture office unveiled its 2019 round of continuing development courses in agriculture and livestock. Four modules will take place between January and April; the first, beginners' level pesticides for individuals employed in professional farming, begins January 21.

The first course runs from January 21 to 25 in the afternoon from 4.00pm to 8.00pm, with an exam to check for comprehension on the January 26. Participants who successfully complete the course will receive a basic-level "phytosanitary product" handler's card. Registration is open now and can be completed at the OAC (Citizen Information Office) or online via the OVAC.

Reclaiming the countryside
Department head Bartomeu Escandell said the Council's longstanding commitment is about making sure those employed in the island's agriculture and livestock sector have free and local options to continue their learning. “Our course programme is directly shaped by the requests we get from agrarian and livestock workers”, he pointed out, “and is part of the administration's ongoing goal to revive the countryside”.

February 13 comes with a course on identifying and controlling the spread of Formentera's most common crop pests and blights, and on February 20 students can get a mix of textbook-based and hands-on instruction about grafting techniques on fruit trees. Both courses last five hours and go from 3.00pm to 8.00pm.

The last course —12 hours of class time on basic notions in viticulture and wine making— plays out April 3-6. Interested learners can sign up for any one of the courses at the OAC or online on the OVAC. Registration is already open and will close three days before the start of each module.

Formentera looks ahead to new marine reserve

foto-punta-de-sa-creuSpread over 1,059 hectares, Punta de sa Creu marine reserve is due for approval in committee this Friday

The Balearic ministry of environment, agriculture and fishing has drafted an order creating a new, 1,059-hectare marine reserve called Punta de sa Creu in an expanse known by the same appellation between two other headlands, or “points”—Punta de la Fernanda and Punta des Far—that flank a rocky crag downhill from La Mola. Expected to pass review in a Friday November 16 meeting of the administration's “governing council” (Consell de Govern), the provision would give the stretch of coastline, deemed invaluable by ecologists and fishermen alike, special protected status. Not only is the area, as scientific studies suggest, home to a wealth of marine biodiversity, it is also crucial for the small-scale operations of local fishermen. As many as 23 distinct benthic habitats have been tallied there as well, such as posidonia seagrass meadows, photophilic algae and coralligenous assemblages cleaved upon hard substrate.

Visiting the site of the future reserve, the environment, agriculture and fishing minister of the region extolled the virtues of such safeguards and drew attention to the Balearic administration's track record on the subject—not only designating new expanses with protected status but bolstering patrols of the areas, too. Vicenç Vidal explained the role of the so-called “sustainable tourism levy” in bankrolling expansions to reserve surveillance personnel, which have gone from 7 to 14 in the last three years and are expected to hit a regional total of 17 with the green-lighting of a similar reserve at Tagomago. The planned reserve at Punta de sa Creu will have one patrol person as well as a dedicated boat.

The new reserve was advocated by a range of social collectives and public agencies, including the Formentera Council. To Jaume Ferrer, president of the local administration, Punta de sa Creu is a “promise that will be delivered on during this legislative session”. He also underscored the significance of the local fishermen's involvement in the process.

The surrounding area is a familiar backdrop for a host of activities directly related to the island's fishing resources. The time-honoured practices involve at least eight kinds of tackle and métiers—low-impact fishing boats typical in Eivissa and Formentera waters. The area of coastline is an extremely popular destination for recreational fishing practices—whether at the surface (volantí and curricà) or underwater—and tourists keen on scuba-diving. Regulation of such activities is a particularly important part of ensuring they can continue to accommodate biodiversity and the marine resources that live there.

Formentera's irrigation pond up and running

foto-bassa-de-reg-1The island's 88,000-cubic-metre irrigation pond—linked to a grid that uses 24 kilometres of pipes to provide 69 individuals with enough water to irrigate 114 hectares of land—is now operational.

Regional minister of environment, agriculture and fishing Vicenç Vidal was joined at a gathering marking the pond's activation by CiF president Jaume Ferrer, Balearic agriculture and livestock chief Mateu Ginard, and CiF president's office secretary Bartomeu Escandell.

On a visit to one of the local properties that can now tap water from the pond for crops, Vidal spoke about the pond's significance. Vidal called the final product—a mixture of desalinated and repurposed purified water—“one of the best tertiary treatments in the Balearics”.

President Ferrer applauded a rollout he described as “eight years in the making” (construction of the structure finished in 2009) and said the administration would dedicate resources to training people on how to use and administer “something that will put Formentera's countryside, and its revival, in the forefront”.

Joan Ferrer, who is chairman of an irrigation workers' collective, hailed the culmination of the project as he declared: “We've got land, water and a reason to be hopeful. Now the focus is on getting production to where it needs to be”.

The local agrarian sector's requests for the €8.2-million structure date back to 2003. The pond was finally completed in 2009, though the inactivity that followed made necessary an additional investment of €294,116 to get the pond operational once and for all during this legislative session.

Unlike with other irrigation ponds, which have a high chlorine content, the water in Formentera's irrigation pond filters through a desalination plant first to ensure it is apt for local fields.

Thirteen similar structures in the Balearic Islands use purified water to irrigate 3,600 hectares—3,600 on Mallorca, 691 on Menorca, 114 on Formentera and 85 on Eivissa.

Open enrolment for children's farming course

foto hort nens 2The Formentera Council's agriculture department reports that from today islanders can register their young ones to participate in courses on farming. Signups run Monday October 8 to the start of classes or until no more space is available. The classes themselves begin Saturday October 20 and continue to June, roughly the same timeline as the 2018/2019 academic calendar.

Tuned for youngsters, the course is a vector for environmental learning and individual and social development of participating children, adding a practical dimension to their day-to-day learning. Familiarity with time-honoured, rural traditions promotes respect for the environment and vice versa.

The workshops will take place Saturday mornings, with two distinct groups attending separate two-hour sessions. Four- to six-year-olds will gather from 9.30am to 11.30am and seven- to eleven-year-olds meet from 12 noon to 2.00pm. Children must be born between 2007 and 2014 to participate.

There may be no more than 12 children to a group.

Instruction will play out at the children's vegetable patch located near Sant Francesc's Sa Tanca Vella chapel. Participants should wear comfortable clothing and appropriate footwear and bring a small bottle of water. The agriculture office will keep a waitlist to accommodate children not registered on time.

Department head Bartomeu Escandell attributed the course's return a fourth straight year to islanders' warm reception of past editions. The idea, he said, is to “get children learning about and enjoying the agrarian work with such deep roots on the island”. Pointing to initiatives like those carried out by the farmers' co-op, or the irrigation reservoir, Escandell declared: “On Formentera we're working to restore farming to the importance it once occupied, but without our young ones—the real farmers of tomorrow—we won't get there”.

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