Algarve orange production decreased 50% during summer
Supermarkets and stores are once again selling Algarve oranges after a major decline in production during the summer.
According to Horácio Ferreira of the Agricultural Cooperative of Citrus Growers of the Algarve (CACIAL), the 2022/2023 production campaign ended with a 50% production decline in the summer variety.
“The previous season proved to be a campaign with few kilograms in the last variety, which is the summer variety. There was 50% less than the normal quantity,” Horácio Ferreira told Lusa, adding that this decline saw virtually no oranges being produced in “August, September, October, and a good part of November.” This meant that “expenses increased, and revenue decreased drastically,” although Ferreira declined to provide numbers, saying only that the losses “were significant.”
The consequence was that “Algarve oranges only started to appear on shelves again on December 4,” he noted, clarifying that oranges produced in the region can only use the term ‘Algarve orange’ when they are registered as IGP (Protected Geographical Indication).
“It may have the correct conditions in terms of ripening, acidity, but if it is not registered as IGP, it cannot use the term Algarve orange,” he explained, adding that CACIAL has 40 members, works with 120 to 150 producers, and has “about 1,200 hectares of orchards, all certified and in integrated production” in the region.
The CACIAL leader also said that regional producers had just experienced a “year of overproduction”, meaning they already knew there would be some decline in the following year and the production would be “considerably lower.”
However, he said that a “normal production year” is expected.
“At this moment, in the campaign we have just started, with winter oranges, we are almost close to a normal year – almost, because we still have some decline. In the spring (variety), we have some predicted decline, and in the last variety, Valencia Late (late), which had a 50% decline last year, this year is good in terms of production,” he estimated.
Horácio Ferreira warned, however, that production is being affected by a “water problem” that is “increasingly on the agenda” and that he classified as “terrifying” for Algarve citrus growers, who are increasingly affected by the effects of the drought affecting the Algarve.
“There are orchards that maybe haven’t been watered for a month, this is an imminent catastrophe, especially in the west, where the dam has no water, and water for irrigation has already been cut,” he lamented, considering that the lack of water “is no longer a concern, it is a real and serious problem” in the Algarve.
The CACIAL leader cited the example of the Spanish autonomous region of Andalusia, where “they are already thinking of buying water from Alqueva and putting the desalination plants of Almeria to work for human consumption” and not for irrigation, and warned that if it doesn’t rain, the situation goes “from concern to a catastrophe.”