10 May 2002

Opportunities never better

OPPORTUNITIES for foreign investors have never been better in the Seville region of south-west Spain, says Ignacio Rufino of farm management company D&C.

"Farm profitability is generally good, the value of land is appreciating and there is a reasonable supply of farms coming to market," he says.

Mr Rufino manages seven livestock farms totalling 7500ha (18,530 acres) in the "dehesa" to the north of Seville, while his cousin Dario Candau looks after seven arable units to the south totalling 4700ha (11,610 acres).

Land prices are comparable to the UK, with poorer land in the "dehesa" fetching from k4200/ha (£1040/acre) to k7200/ha (£1780/acre). Irrigated arable land, suitable for growing wheat, sugar beet and cotton, is worth from k15,000/ha (£3700/acre) to k18,000/ha (£4460/acre), while non-irrigated land fetches from k9000/ha (£2220/acre) to k12,000/ha (£2960/acre).

Most of the farms are Spanish owned, though overseas investors from Argentina and Iceland are also serviced by D&C. "Our company tries to offer all the commercial services they could need under one roof," says Mr Candau. "We employ 15 lawyers, seven economists and two auditors, as well as six of us in the farms department."

The level of involvement varies with each farm.

Fees are arranged so that D&C gets a small flat-rate monthly reward, with the bulk of payment tied directly to profits. This gives them the incentive to succeed.

Mr Rufino believes there is real scope for British farmers and entrepreneurs to get involved in south-west Spain. "The Spanish are pretty good at farming this land and managing the environment, but less good at commercialising the products. British people have a better track record in this."

Ignacio Rufino and Dario Candau.