Ambitious plans to help national farmers caught out by the effects of the lockdown involve government subsidies so that they can start selling their produce door-to-door.
Explain reports today, civic groups along with borough and parish councils are being encouraged to ‘help organise and distribute’ food hampers via a new online platform.
Farmers that sign up to the scheme will be paid 48 euros per day, says Correio da Manhã today.
It’s a way of clearing gluts that have appeared due to the closure of regular customers: namely hotels, restaurants, cafés etc.
In certain areas, small producers have already started to receive help organised by everyday citizens.
In the Algarve, for example, Debby Burton of the Forest Fire Alert Facebook group started the “Directory for Shops and Restaurants Open during Covid-19 lockdown” – also on Facebook – while the Associação In Loco set up teams of people to connect growers with consumers.
In the Beira region, local association Abider is calling on all locals to start consuming local, supplying a list of small producers ready to take orders; and in Coimbra, the online platform Coimbramaisfuturo puts farmers and businesses in touch with consumers.
Now, the Agriculture ministry has shown it wants to do its bit too. “We want to support the ‘short-supply lines’; the local market”, minister Maria do Céu Albuquerque told CM.
The objective is to encourage ‘groups of local action’, municipalities and parishes to join up with small producers to organise and distribute food hampers directly to families, says the paper.
Alternatively, farmers can sell their produce at local markets – thus it is important, said the minister, to ensure councils keep these open.
The minister highlighted another difficulty at play. With the lockdown – as well as the restrictions imposed by large supermarkets – people are actually consuming less.
The agriculture ministry has emphasised the need for supermarkets to ‘buy more national produce’ – but with demand dropping, it realised the need for alternative supply lines.
Said Ms Albuquerque, the new initiative will be going ahead with the help of “Federação Minha Terra” and will allow consumers to instantly find local producers.
Meantime pressure is on to receive EU PAC money – seven million euros worth of it, promised back in November last year – which should start being distributed to farmers from April 30.