The cooperative is looking to bring about a recovery in Soller orange production. | P. Lozano

The Sant Bartomeu agricultural cooperative in Soller is launching a new initiative for the oranges of Soller and Fornalutx to come under the European Union protected geographical indication (PGI) scheme. This is aimed at protecting regional produce and food and at promoting agricultural activity by helping producers to obtain premium prices and to remove unfair competition.

In the case of the Soller oranges, there is a need for both protection and reinvigoration of production. The cooperative's president, Miquel Gual, says that the first objective would be to restore orange groves. Age and lack of profitability have led in the past twenty years to a reduction in land used for oranges and a fall in production of some 60%. Whereas 1,500 tons of oranges were once being produced, there are now only between 600 and 700. The cooperative wants to get back to previous levels of production while also focusing on the quality of oranges.

At a meeting of the cooperative this week to launch the PGI initiative, it was also announced that a specialist has been hired who will monitor the planting and development of 1,000 new trees.