The majorero tomato

On hot days we prefer light meals, fruits and salads, all of which provide water, fiber, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and, of course, help lower body heat. 

Nothing like having a refreshing and nutritious gazpacho, on a hot day in July. Well yes, taste some delicious Tiscamanita tomatoes (tomatoes that taste like tomatoes) accompanied with cubes of Majorero cheese, and seasoned with extra virgin olive oil.

Tomato in the Canary Islands. 

The tomato has its origin in America. It was not brought to the peninsula until the end of the 16th century, as it was thought to be toxic. He arrived in the Canary Islands a little later. Its cultivation was on a small scale and was mainly dedicated to supplying the island markets. 

The volcanic lands, and the mild temperatures that occur throughout the year in our archipelago, helped the tomato have a great boom in the late nineteenth century, when it was introduced to be produced on a large scale and to be exported internationally.

The tomato in Fuerteventura 

The first tomato plantations that began to grow in Fuerteventura, date from the beginning of the 20th century. In 1903 the first agronomic tests were carried out for the plantation of tomatoes on our island. 

This was reflected in the Majorero newspaper “La Aurora” on May 12, 1903. 

As a test, small tomato plantations have been made on the next Zurita farm, some packages * having been sent abroad. (…) 

Everything has given excellent results (…) 

* One package corresponds to about 6 Kg.

The rise of this type of plantation in Fuerteventura is closely linked to the development of mills that extracted water from the subsoil, and more specifically to the appearance of multi-blade or Chicago mills. 

The Chicago mills are those mills over 15 meters high, made of metal and with many blades that we can see all over the island. 

The fact of irrigating with groundwater has the disadvantage of the high salinity of the water. Something that only alfalfa and tomato tolerate to a certain extent.

It is precisely our groundwater that gives the tomato of Fuerteventura its own characteristics: Low acidity, sweetness and juiciness. 

We also have a unique tomato variety: the “Especial Fuerteventura”, of great quality and which reached the highest prices on the market in the 70-80s of the last century.

We also owe the success and expansion of the tomato fields to the socio-economic situation of the island. At that time, Fuerteventura had cheap labor. In this, women took the cake. 

The incorporation of women into the tomato harvest meant greater benefits for the owners of these farms. mainly because their salary was half that of men. It was also common to use child labor, who barely received a few coins for hard work. Women represented more than half of the workforce employed in this type of cultivation. So, the huge profits were only for a few. This was the case until tourism arrived on the island, and that workforce moved to the hotels.

But let’s go back to the origins. 

If the first trials were carried out in 1903, we can say that a year later the first large plantations were already in production in Gran Tarajal, created by Mr. Matias López, and that tomato was already exported from Fuerteventura in 1905. 

In just over a decade, Fuerteventura began to emerge in the production of tomatoes in the Canary Islands. These plantations were concentrated in the municipalities of Tuineje and Pájara.

In 1917 the first agricultural colony on the island was created. He settled in the Gran Tarajal valley, specifically in the “Cañada de la Mata”. 

For more than half a century, the population of Fuerteventura tripled during the tomato harvest season. Hundreds, thousands of people came from other islands, and even from the peninsula, to work in the different activities around the cultivation and trade of tomato. 

The export of the Majorero tomato reached its peak in the mid-80s of the 20th century. In 1984, almost 11,000 tons of tomatoes left the port of Gran Tarajal, whose final destination was mainly the United Kingdom. 

At the beginning of the 90s few tomatoes were exported from Fuerteventura, even so this fruit has never stopped growing. Since 2010, important advances have been made in the recovery of the “Huevo de Gallo” and “Especial de Fuerteventura” tomato varieties. The “Huevo de Gallo” tomato is a variety that has historically been grown in the north of the island, while the “Especial de Fuerteventura” is the one that grows best in the south of Maxorata. The seeds of these two varieties have been preserved for more than 40 years in perfect condition, thanks to the tenacity of a few farmers.

 

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