You are not having your best time corn cultivation in Spain. The surface keeps decreasing because, although the previous ones have skyrocketed, the costs of the raw materials with which they are produced have increased. AND water, or rather its scarcity, has become a headache for producers.

The future doesn’t look rosy either. Added to the current uncertainties is the countdown to the demands imposed by the community strategy ‘From farm to table’, which obliges the sector to reduce, before 2030, fertilization by 20% and phytosanitary treatments by 50%.

This scenario will be the starting point of the II Iberian Corn Congress, that the General Association of Corn Producers in Spain (Agpme) and the National Association of Corn and Sorghum Producers in Portugal (Anpromis) celebrate on the 23rd and 24th of March in Barbastro (Huesca).

“It is about continuing what we started, together with the Portuguese, 3 years ago at the congress organized in Portugal: unifying all the problems we have in the Iberian Peninsula and defending the sector from all the problems that arise”, he explains. José Luis Romeo, president of Agpme.

The congress intends to be a meeting point, debate and information, to which About 600 professionals are expected, who will gather around presentations and round tables. There will also be a place reserved for ‘networking’ and professional and commercial exchange, add the organizers of the event.

In all these debates, special emphasis will be given to the challenges posed by a scarce water resource and absolutely necessary for this extensive cultivation which last season in Aragon occupied about 86,891.36 hectares. But those responsible for these organizations also want to put on the table the need to “open your eyes to new technologies and precision agriculture and biotechnology are very important there”, says José Luis Romeo.

And it is that the use of science “opens incredible options for the sector”, says the president of Agpme, who insists that biotechnology can improve plants, adapting them to the needs of each country, making them more resistant to drought, more efficient and even “generate a higher quality product”.

An argument that is also defended by the director of this organization, Javier Folch. “It is essential not to be left behind in relation to the world, we need to Europe goes hand in hand with science in everything related to gene editing with Crispr technology, as it is the guarantee of producing plants that are stronger and more resistant to pests and droughts and, therefore, more sustainable to feed the world”, he warns.

joint strategy

If the maize sector is important in Spain, it is no less so in Portugal, which explains the joint organization of this congress to analyze the uncertain future of this crop, which is also very dependent on the availability of water. “We detected an important need for the Iberian countries to have a joint strategy in relation to water. In Portugal, the issue of water management and the increase in reserves is calmer than in other countries, but it is not running at the desired pace”. So says Tiago Pinto, secretary general of Anpromis, who insists that water producers countries cannot afford “that in times of real drought things get very complicated, depending only on there being other times when it rains”.

Anpromis also insists on the need for the Iberian Corn Congress to address the “environmental issue”, as its president, Jorge Neves, calls it, who regrets that this crop is “very under attack” and argues that “it is necessary to show that corn is not a crop that is inimical to the environment, on the contrary, it is a sustainable crop, both here in Portugal and in Spain”.

Neves also questions the view that the Old Continent holds in relation to biotechnology. “Europe practically has no commercial relations with the United States, the main country interested in biotechnological research, and this must be changed and the relationship strengthened”, he emphasizes. Because, as he warns, “with the threat of Russia, it is necessary to find new commercial allies and have a different concept of biotechnology than we have had until now. Europe must have its maize supplies fully secured.”