Agriculture could be complementary to tourism in the Algarve, but the drought crisis (click here and here) is posing a huge challenge, said José Apolinário, the president of the Algarve’s regional coordination and development commission (CCDR Algarve).
Speaking at the 6th Mostra Silves Capital da Laranja, organised every year to highlight the unique traits of Silves oranges, Apolinário said: “Agriculture needs water, and the sustainable use of water is a huge challenge for the region.”
While tourism is starting to show signs of recovery (click here), it is widely recognised that the Algarve has needed to diversify its economy for years.
“Following the ‘tsunami’ caused by the pandemic, it is consensual that tourism – our main economic activity – will recover gradually. We will continue to be the main tourism region in the country, but we have to be able to diversify our economy,” Apolinário said at the event.
With tourism on the path of recovery, Apolinário believes that events like the Silves orange show are needed to promote local products and bolster the economy.
Said the CCDR Algarve president, the agricultural sector saw production and prices increase in 2021 after a stagnant 2020.
“We know the demands and pressure that are put on production, but this increase in prices is encouraging for diversification and for investment in a competitive and sustainable agriculture,” said Apolinário.
But with the ongoing drought that continues to plague Portugal and the Algarve, the CCDR boss is well-aware that “intelligent and sustainable” water management is needed to keep the agricultural sector going.
The regional Water Efficiency Plan, which is part of the country’s Plan for Recovery and Resilience, has around €17 million set aside for the sustainable management of water in agriculture, he pointed out.
Apolinário said that decision-makers must stay ‘on their toes’ to make sure all projects are presented in 2022 and make sure farmers are notified of when they can present their bids.
The president of CCDR Algarve also called for more investment in Research & Development (R&D).
Said Apolinário, investment in R&D in 2020 represented 0.49% of the Algarve’s GDP – the highest amount in a decade. However, he believes “we need to increase the investment in investigation and science much more to increase the competitiveness of the region, its companies and its agricultural activity.”