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Council turns farming equipment over to Farmers' Co-op

Maquinaria cooperativaFormentera Council (CiF) president Jaume Ferrer and Jaume Escandell, president of the Farmers' Co-operative (Cooperativa del Camp), signed an agreement today making official the lease of farming equipment for use by the Co-op. Purchased by the administration, the farmers' group will use the stock of industrial tools and machinery to “push forward with the farmland reserve project and still other initiatives aimed at reviving Formentera's farming sector,” explained the CiF president, who said the equipment would also help boost “other efforts to improve the quality of our natural landscapes here on the island.”

Specifically, the Council will allow the Co-op use of an electric forklift, a hand pallet truck,  an electric pallet truck weigher, a tractor, a loader shovel, a seeder, a two-row super chisel, a rotavator, a reversible plow, a mower, a fertiliser, a suspended hydraulic sprayer, a trailer, a rectangular baler, a grain harvester and a cropper trailer. The lease is valid through the end of this year and can be extended. The total value of the equipment surpasses 320,000 euros.

The chair of the Farmers' Co-op, Carlos Marí, was also present at the signing of the pact. He called the Council's decision to lend the machinery “monumental for the Co-operative in terms of the autonomy it will give us”. Till now, the Co-operative has contracted out work on its farmland reserve project to third-party farmers. From today, the group will be able to take charge directly of such efforts. Marí pointed out that the Co-op could also begin using equipment like the tractor and harvester to help its own members and other interested individuals. The equipment will mainly be used to work the 150 hectares of land that comprise the local farmland reserve so far.

Can Marroig sees return to traditional farming

Foto signatura conveniEarlier today in the plenary hall of the Formentera Council (CiF), administration president Jaume Ferrer met with Vicenç Vidal, regional environment minister of the Govern Balear and president of Institut Balear de la Natura (IBANAT), to sign off on an agreement giving Formentera use rights over a stretch of public land in Can Marroig. Ownership of the parcel is held by IBANAT. Also present at the signing were CiF councillor of rural affairs Bartomeu Escandell and IBANAT chair Ramón Villalonga.

The goal of the five-year renewable agreement is to give the land an agricultural use. President Ferrer voiced his hope that stewardship of the parcel go to the Formentera Farmers' Co-operative. The president said control of the 12-hectare plot had for some time been the object of petitions by the Formentera Council. The land will be worked and maintained using environmentally-friendly methods.

Govern Balear minister Vidal called the renewed agricultural use of the land a milestone and underscored the importance of conserving Formentera's biodiversity. He celebrated it as “the first case we've had of public land being given this kind of productive use.” Care of the parcel will be incorporated into the Farmland Reserve project of the Formentera Farmers' Co-operative. The land-use revival project was launched in March 2015 and today includes a register of 140 hectares. Through its support of the Farmers' Co-op and initiatives like the Farmland Reserve, the Council invests in the renewal of Formentera's primary sector and protecting the island's natural beauty.

First introductory farming course for kids

AGRICULTURA PER NENS 2016 webKids between three and twelve, this is for you. The Formentera Council, by way of the Office of Agriculture, has announced the launch of an introductory course in farming for children, the first of its kind. Signups will remain open until May 16 or until the course reaches its 30-child limit and will take place in person at the Citizen's Information Office (OAC) and online across the office's virtual platform. So explained the CiF's councillor of rural affairs, Bartomeu Escandell, in a press conference earlier today. Happy to see the project take flight, Escandell called the course a reflection of “the administration's determination to invest in our children's agricultural connection at a very young age”. According to the councillor, farming is important because it is part of Formentera's traditional past, “but also because it's part of a healthy lifestyle”.

After the May 16 deadline, the agriculture office will call families to confirm enrolment. The course itself will start the third or fourth week of May. It will run six weeks with one two-hour session per week. Participants of the workshop-style course will be divided into three different groups. One group will meet Tuesdays 5.30-7.30pm, another on Fridays at the same time and a third group will meet on Saturday mornings, 10.00am to 12 noon. There is a ten-child limit per group and children will be assigned on a first-come first-served basis and according to the preference stated at enrolment. The classes are free and will be held in the play area near the sa Tanca Vella chapel in Sant Francesc. Remember to bring comfortable clothes and appropriate shoes.

Farmers' cooperative undertakes fig tree trimming

Poda Figueres x Eva Parey 001From February and through the end of March, the Formentera farmers' cooperative, la Cooperativa del Camp, is overseeing restorative pruning on fig trees located on land donated as part of the group's farmland reserve project, Cens de Terres. The goal, says Carlos Marí, head of the cooperative, is to “restore these trees —a quintessential figure of local tradition— to their optimal state and market their fruit this summer”.

Over the last two months Cooperativa members have pruned or propped up the limbs of 89 trees. According to Marí, that number is expected to reach 129 by the time cooperative members finish, “allowing the farmers' cooperative to carry out its first commercial fig harvest”.

As councillor of rural affairs Bartomeu Escandell noted, such pruning is just one part of the rural restoration work established by the joint action partnership between the Formentera Council and the farmers' cooperative. At present more than 140 hectares have been entrusted to the Cooperativa for use in its farmland reserve programme. Said Marí, “many of our donated parcels had been left derelict for many years, so the restorative work will likely be lengthy”.

Govern expects irrigation pond will be operational by summer 2017

foto visita dg agricultura i ramaderiaThis morning in the plenary hall of the Formentera Council, councillor of rural affairs Bartomeu Escandell met with Mateu Ginard, the Govern Balear's director general of agriculture and livestock, as well as the heads of three different local groups – the irrigation organisation of Formentera, the local assocation of livestock farmers and the Formentera farmers' cooperative.

Palma's head of agriculture and livestock described the project currently overseen by his department and valued at €294,000 to “get Formentera's effluent water-fed irrigation pond up and running”. Ginard reported that the project, entrusted to the Tragsa company, is expected to be completed by next summer, at which time, “five years after construction, the pond will finally be operational”.

Help for local irrigators

Councillor Escandell announced “during the first two years, the Formentera Council will cover the €30 fixed monthly fee required for use of each water main”. Acknowledging what he called a «lack of culture of irrigation” among Formentera farmers, Escandell proclaimed, “we want to do everything we can to promote use of the irrigation pond and help out our local community of irrigators”.

Agriculture, Escandell told Ginard, has been a top priority for the Formentera administration, pointing to the support given to the Formentera farmers' cooperative (la Cooperativa del Camp) and the creation of an industrial space for that group earlier in the year. “Our goal is to support action to improve the natural beauty of our surroundings and strengthen our agricultural and livestock sectors”.

To the local representatives of these groups, Ginard highlighted the grant money the Govern plans to make available to mitigate the effects of this year's dry season. “For one thing, there will be feed subsidies of €9.20 per animal”, he reported. Moreover, and of particular interest to associations, he said, are credits of between €20,000 and €100,000 at near-zero percent interest rates that the Govern also plans to provide. He also spoke about the possibility of additional funding for certified seed.

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