Just as foreign millions ‘scoop’ prime chunks of Portuguese real estate, agriculture too is reaping new rewards. Australian company TPI Enterprises – which has already ploughed around €3 million into the production of white ‘opium’ poppies in the Alentejo – is now upping its commitment by a further €10 million.
It’s a ‘win-win’ situation for farmers in the Alqueva dam region, as TPI is contracting them to grow the poppies, guaranteeing to buy the entire crop once it is ready.
The opium that is then harvested is destined for the pharmaceutical industry, where it is incorporated into medicines like morphine and codeine.
In an exclusive interview with Diário Económico, TPI’s executive president Jarrod Ritchie explained that his company began by growing opium poppies over 700 hectares round the dam. Next year, they hope to “double or triple” the area under production “to around 2.500 to 3.000 hectares”.
“Apart from increasing our area of cultivation, we have bought a factory in Mem Martins which will be used for storage and the first phase of processing the poppies,” he told the paper. “We are estimating that investment will be in the region of €10 million this year.”
TPI is already one of the world’s largest producers of white poppies.
Since it ‘discovered’ Alqueva – with its perfect climate, easy access to plentiful irrigation and good land – the area has been transformed by “extensive plains” full of the “white-blue” flowers that blend into yellow.
“We are very happy with our decision to invest in Portugal,” Ritchie affirmed.
Portugal is expected to account for “around 15%” of TPI’s total opium production by 2016, adds DE.