“Water is a central theme, the development in the last 20 years in the efficient use of water is impressive, but more is needed”, says Goncalo Andrade, president of Portugal Fresh. It believes that “we have entered a modern, intensive agriculture that uses technology to use resources very efficiently”.
“Agriculture is passing through an exciting phase that began in the late 1980s. Great development began with the introduction of irrigation, which was the great engine of growth, namely with the alcaeva”, according to the Union of Farmers of Ribetejo. “If we combine this technology and its development not only in terms of crops and genetics, but also in terms of irrigation systems, drones, satellites, sensors, it is fascinating and exciting agriculture”, said President Luis Cebra. concluded. He stressed that “technology has been an ally of agriculture”. Since the late 1990s, agriculture has responded quickly to every little innovation opportunity that has arisen in the world. He recalls traveling to Spain and the United States to find out what had been done. But, in the opinion of Luis Cebra, “it is the opposite nowadays, they see why we have become a showcase and an exemplary model in high-intensity agriculture in the sense of protecting the environment and the region”.
But Luis Cebra points out that, in the future, if nothing is done, water will become a limiting factor for the development of agriculture. “Climate change is a concern, but it is a fact that in Portugal we are in 2021 and we do not have any projected water-related work for the next 10 years. In the PRR, we are talking about a Pisso dam. which have a regional influence, that is important and appropriate but we have nothing else”, Luis Cebra considered.
north to south water
Portugal uses less than 10% of its surface water resources annually, which are concentrated north of the Tagus. The solution for Luis Cebra would be to bring water to the south to increase the irrigated areas. But “European policy tends to limit, prohibition. The answer should be clear and tell Europe that there is no prospect of agricultural development in the countries of the south without an increase in irrigated areas. It is not just a question of water. Ecology.” Maintain the system, but to develop the south of the country, and moreover, with dams we can add thousands of hectares.”
It adds that “There is no water retention dam in Tejo, we have one in the Dzore, which is a tributary. The Spaniards store 90% of the water and then we want them to open the tap for us? We are always on Live with a knife’s edge because we don’t have the stability of this essential resource.” Water could affect the development of the region, admits Gonçalo Andrade. In his opinion, if there is a real strategy for irrigation, the fruits, vegetables and flower sectors will be able to increase the production area and reach another billion euros in turnover in 10 years. In the PRR, 60% of the 200 million euros allocated for irrigation in the Algarve is for new water sources, transfer from Pomarao, and a desalination plant.