Algarve Avocados: a farmers point of viewBy Paula Martins, In News · 13 Nov 2020, 01:00 · 19 Comments
The production of avocados in the Algarve has sparked public outrage, with strong opinions against avocado production due to the exacerbated waste of water. The Portugal News took the challenge and tried to find out more about this controversial topic.
Avocado farms are becoming more and more common in the Algarve. Due to the fruit being recognised as very beneficial to human health, demand has increased, the price has risen and, consequently, the production also experienced an increase, not only in Portugal, but wherever the fruit can be grown – that means tropical and subtropical regions.
Joaquim Mourinho, owner of Frutas Mourinho, who aside from avocados, also farms pomegranates and citrus fruits, clarifies the benefits around the avocado production that is useful not only for the local economy but also for the environment
Joaquim Mourinho said: “Just one avocado tree is able to transform carbon dioxide into enough oxygen for two adults”, which has notable benefits for reducing the ecological footprint.
In 1986, there were already an estimated 70 hectares of avocado farms in the Algarve, which were “more of an experiment than anything else”, the farmer said. About ten years ago, the health benefits of avocados started to spread and, obviously, the consumption increased hand in hand with the production. The question is: who will produce avocados and where? For Joaquim Mourinho there is no doubt, either we produce near the consumers, or all the production will come from Latin-America. “There is nothing better than fruit being produced in the region of consumption, whenever possible, to avoid the transport from South and Central America by boat where lots of fuel is burned and released into the atmosphere”. Nothing about this will damage the environment and contribute to the increase of theozone hole”, said the farmer to The Portugal News.
“In addition to promoting the local economy, we respect nature and reduce the atmospheric impact”, said the farmer.
He also added: “Avocado production contributes to the creation of jobs - directly and indirectly. For example, there are transport companies delivering avocados from the Algarve to all over Europe; there are many factories producing boxes to pack the fruits safely; and also we have people doing the accounting of these companies, and they also pay their taxes to the state”.
The benefits are also seen in the water cycle. Joaquim Mourinho explained that when it rains, without the land being cultivated, the water has more difficulty infiltrating because the land is compact, not allowing the creation of groundwater and the water drains without any real use. With more agriculture the water penetrates the subsoil more easily. “There is no water shortage in the Algarve, water is being wasted through ineffective methods, because it rains and water drains without infiltrating”, said the farmer.
That means, for Joaquim Mourinho, that the issue around the lack of water in the Algarve is supported through a lie. “The Algarve has a lot of water, but the management of it is wrong – we need to build more dams, more vegetation, create conditions to avoid runoff from rainwater- because we clearly do not have the right methods to make the most out of the water available in the Algarve”.