The grape production system passes in La Axarquía. Credits: www.eleconomista.es
The Salt Valley is a landscape of enormous eco-cultural wealth. In fact, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has recognised in 2018 the Salt Valley of Añana as one of the first two Important Systems of the World Agricultural Heritage (SIPAM) in Europe.
In other words, FAO has recognized the form of exploitation of springs for salt production in the Salt Valley. In this small valley, salt is cultivated following millenary practices, thanks to the existence of saltwater springs whose origin is a geological phenomenon called “diapir”, a gigantic bubble of salt from a sea that disappeared millions of years ago. The complex hydraulic system of the Salted Valley distribution and storage of brine, consisting of hundreds of pinewood channels that distribute it to all corners by gravity, together with a careful technique of salt cultivation is part of an intricate complex in that of hydrology, forestry, livestock and agriculture that are intimately related to salt production environments.
In an exercise of adaptation to the environment, in the succession of terraces built by hand with walls of dry stone, wood, and clay, and in the salt crystallisation basins, gradual changes have been introduced that have allowed salt production to remain today the livelihood of the local community.
On the other hand, FAO has also recognized the methodology of the production of raisins in La Axarquía (Málaga); technique that dates back to the Phoenician era and that makes reduced use of synthetic products and uses labor-intensive agricultural techniques aimed at preserving the environment, such as minimum tillage or the application of manure by hand.
The uniqueness of the system lies both in the method of obtaining the product in an area with adverse orographic conditions and in its elaboration, following a drying system by direct exposure to the sun, without applying any type of physical or chemical treatment other than natural ravaging.
FAO has valued the importance of raisin production for the history, the environment, and the economy of La Axarquía, since its raisins – famous for their special characteristics of size, flavor, properties, and use – are exported all over the world.