Organic citruses: health and biodiversity!
Citrus fruit are originated in South-West Asia, and are cultivated in subtropical and tropical regions recognized us the largest worldwide production, more than bananas and apples. They are fruits very appreciated for their high quality, aroma, taste, succulence, texture, color and size. Besides fresh consumption, they are also marketed as juice, marmalades and jelly. Furthermore, peal has industrials applications and can be used too as feed processing.
According to Agriculture, Feed and Environment Ministry (MAGRAMA) Spain is the first citrus producer in Europe and the first world exporter for fresh consumption.
The organic oranges crops is growing in Spain too, as well as its demand in the main European consumer countries. On this way, due to a massive conversion from conventional to organic farms a high increase of organic citrus is happening. However, recently is observed a trend of new plantations directly in organic, oriented to varieties less available in the markets, in those farms the parcels design is more relevant. From 2001, the organic citrus surface is multiply by 6.9 in this territory, counting in 2012 with 6.275 has.
At state level, Andalusia is the first organic citrus producer region with 63% of total and near of 4.000 Has, followed by Valencia Region and Murcia (from MAGRAMA source).
The main destiny for citrus produced under organic regulation in Andalusia is to export, resulting around a quarter for national market. The main destiny of this citrus is European Union, in concrete Germany, France and United Kingdom.
Socio-Economic and environmental importance in Andalusia
In general terms, citrus farms who strongly highlight in Andalusia are those that have a traditional structure, difficult technification, and they have adopted the organic production as strategy for products differentiation for a best competitiveness and profitability. In addition, beyond market interest, the importance of organic grow in citrus is strengthened for the natural richness existing in Andalusian territory, which demand cultivation techniques that prioritize biodiversity conservation, efficient use and quality of water for irrigation.
However, the organic citrus cultivation is going to continue growing in relevance, not only in traditional zones, but in another expansion growing locations too with more modern and technificated farms where there is a commitment with fruit quality.
Organic citrus and health
Citrus are knowing by their healthy characteristics. In organic oranges those properties are highlighted, thanks to a higher content on soluble solids and vitamins.
Citrus and it juices provide:
- C Vitamin or ascorbic acid, important due to their antioxidant effect, strengthening immunologic system.
- Fibre, which contribute to improve digestion process and have a satiating effect
- Minerals like potassium, magnesium and phosphorous
- Enhance iron absorption.
Furthermore, researchers from Valencian Agrarian Research Institute (IVIA) together with Politechnic University of Valencia (UPV) and sometimes with others researchers from international institutions (Bonn University, Germany) had perform comparison studies of nutritional composition in citrus from conventional and organic origin. In those studies becomes evident that vitamin concentrations depends on variety, date of harvest and mainly on production system. In this way, fruits from organic systems provide higher figures of vitamin in the juice. The differences can vary from 10 to 20% depending on mentioned criteria, and the intake of one organic orange per day assures concentrations of C Vitamin enough to provide dairy needs.