From mules to drones: the Sant Josep de Mollerussa Fair celebrates 150 years

The Sant Josep de Mollerussa Fair, the Catalan Agricultural Machinery Fair and the Motor Show are celebrating their 150th anniversary this year.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
16 March 2023 Thursday 23:50
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From mules to drones: the Sant Josep de Mollerussa Fair celebrates 150 years

The Sant Josep de Mollerussa Fair, the Catalan Agricultural Machinery Fair and the Motor Show are celebrating their 150th anniversary this year. The Minister of Economy, Natalia Mas, opens this Friday the fair in which 253 exhibitors participate, 24% more than in the last edition spread over 21,923 square meters, 30% more than in 2022.

The Lleida fair, witness years ago to the transition from mules to tractors, has hosted the Inter-Pyrenean Grain Exchange since the 1990s. It is, for yet another year, a showcase for precision applications, technical conferences related to the agricultural sector, precision irrigation systems, new machinery and renewable energy.

"We have made a new part of the 19,000 square meter enclosure that exceeds the entire enclosure we had and yes or yes we are the Catalan capital of agricultural machinery," says the mayor of Mollerussa and president of the fair, Marc Solsona.

“Sant Josep arrives on its 150th anniversary in a context in which the first sector, somewhat convulsed, needs this fair to be a loudspeaker for its claims”, acknowledges Solsona. In this sense, he points out that the technical conferences address drought, rabbit and wild boar plagues, production costs, renewable energy or irrigation modernization.

And he also says that if he always complained that aid was only received from the Lleida Provincial Council, this year, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary, they have arrived. “The goal is for the institutions to continue collaborating in the coming years,” says Solsona.

Thus, to the 135,000 euros provided by the Provincial Council, this year there are 100,000 euros from the Ministry of Industry and 250,000 from the Departments of Industry and Climate Action of the Generalitat, the latter aimed at starting the remodeling works of the fairgrounds.

Regarding the historic rivalry between the Sant Josep fair and the Sant Miquel agricultural fair, in autumn in Lleida, Solsona maintains that the Mollerussa fair is better situated on the calendar: "People have already cashed in on agricultural production and it is a good time to shopping".

"Exhibitors tell us that March is a good date for their sales, having said that, we don't have to compete with Sant Miguel but rather collaborate, we are an agricultural machinery fair," he adds.

Among the exhibitors, this year, for the first time, there are several drone companies, used in agriculture for applications or to capture multispectral images. Ilerdron, from Alcoletge, is one of them. It is the first time that he participates. Its manager, Oscar Pires, assures that the agricultural sector in Lleida is already collaborating. At the fair it will offer, in addition to sales, pilot training.

Maquinària Agrícola Bosch is one of the companies of a lifetime. Joan Antoni Bosch, its manager, comments that the company, with 65 years of history, has always been an exhibitor. It sells tractors and all kinds of agricultural machinery. According to his data, this year he is more unemployed than in the last two. "Sales are slowed down because of the drought and because farmers are scared by rabbit damage. When the farmer stops, the companies in the sector stop dead," he says.

To commemorate the 150th anniversary, the Fair has published a book, 150 years of Sant Josep. Voices of a Fair, written by ACN journalist Oriol Bosch with the collaboration of Segre newspaper journalist Helena Culleré, which includes 23 interviews with ex-directors and ex-mayors of the city, as well as the mayor and the current director.

Oriol Bosch points out that the people who speak in the book highlight the calendar factor: "The fact that it is celebrated in March, before the start of an agricultural campaign, when the farmer has a full wallet after having collected the harvest of the previous year, is considered key for the fair to be a success in sales”.

At the same time, none of the interviewees ignores the competition factor with the Sant Miquel de Lleida agricultural fair. "The power and notoriety of the Sant Miquel fair is recognized due to the fact that it is held in the capital of the province and it is even seen with a certain healthy envy the fact that institutionally the Lleida fair has been more recognized and at the same time financially compensated as a fair event”, he concludes.