Fresh water problems in southern Portugal

Richard Alan, like many British retirees, bought a house in the Portuguese Algarve region and started growing vegetables. But her favorite pastime was under threat – the well was almost dry. The water began to run out all over the region.

Some conservationists and smallholder farmers believe that avocado plantations are to blame. These trees consume four times more water than the traditional Algarve orange crops.

[Richard Alan, Farmer]:
“I’m sure the groundwater is going into avocados or evaporating. We thought we could use this water, but we don’t get anything. ”

Avocados are planted in the Algarve on 1,600 hectares. Moreover, since 2018, their area has doubled. There is also a plantation of these trees in the village of Baran de São João, not far from Richard’s house. 200 hectares of land have been allocated for it. These avocados consume up to four million liters of water per day.

Drought aggravates the situation. One of the main reservoirs in the region is 18% full. This is the lowest level of any reservoir in Portugal. Experts say that there will be enough water only until the end of the year.

However, farmers do not intend to give up growing avocados yet. These fruits are more profitable than oranges, and the demand for them is high.

[Jose Campos, farmer]:
“Avocados are loved. This is “green gold”. However, difficulties have appeared – there is not enough water. Let’s see how long it takes. If the problem is not resolved, it is not known whether these plantations will remain in the Algarve. ”

Some restaurants prepare all dishes with the addition of this fruit.

[Rui Barata, Restaurant Owner]:
“It’s very trendy and young people are switching to healthy foods that include avocados. This is a super healthy fruit that brings great benefits to the body. ”

Last year, 2,500 tons of avocados were exported from Portugal to Spain. This year the export volume is expected to double.

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