There has been a boom in the cultivation of Aloe Vera plants in Almería, and it’s estimated that about 100,000 of the plants are currently under cultivation.
The largest farm is run by a company called Cosensa just 15km outside of Almería, which has 10 ha under cultivation. Consensa, by the way, was founded by General Luis Rosón Pérez, whose brother Juan José was the first democratic Minister of the Interior (that might have helped with the water connections and whatnot). General Luis setup the farm, called El Maltés, in 1973. El Maltés, which is run by the descendent of the General, is currently the largest Aloe Vera farm in Andalusia. They also grow olives.
General Luis was shot down in an assassination attempt by ETA in 1984. He survived, and the attack piled pressure on the dirty war against the Basque terrorist group. His other brother was President of Galicia for a while. It’s not known if Aloe Vera was used to salve his wounds 🙂
Another company called Calebús has recently opened a farm, and the massive Deretil pharmaceutical company in Villaricos also has a trial phase underway to see if they can make use of the stuff. A number of small farmers have also invested into growing it, although they tend to sell it through the farming cooperatives rather than direct.
Meanwhile, a farming cooperative called Albentillas produces Aloe Vera for local use – it goes into an organic marmalade. (No, I don’t know where you can get it from). And the owner of the pharmacy in Pulpí, Mar Fuentes, has a personal farm and makes medicines for local use.
The plants are used for cosmetic and medicinal purposes and are being shipped whole to factories, usually in Germany or Slovenia. However, plans are underway to setup a mill in the province to extract the valuable gel from the plants directly which will lower transport costs. A leaf is usually worth €0,50 on the international market.
Apropos of nothing, I have one in my garden which has just flowered. Maybe next year I’ll have two!