By: CECÍLIA PIRES
NEW SPECIES of more resistant orange trees for the brackish areas and a new book of good practices for production and packaging were two of the many items debated last week at Faro University by representatives of the orange production sector.
Portuguese and Spanish orange producers gathered at the main auditorium for a three day seminar that ended on Saturday with a special visit to local orange farms.
The convention also worked as a meeting point between producers, researchers and technicians to analyse future trends.
The 2º Congresso Nacional de Citricultura was attended by an estimated 300 people and about 60 research papers were presented to participants.
Many of the attendees were farmers from the Algarve and Alentejo regions and also from the Spanish Andalusia. Researchers came mainly from the Algarve University, but also from other investigation centres in Portugal and Spain.
Amilcar Duarte, a professor at the Algarve University involved in the organisation of the seminar, told The Resident that “the presence of experts from other regions was an
encouraging factor and showed the sector is starting to be seen as of national importance”.
The professor, who teaches at the Engineering and Natural Resources High School at the Gambelas Campus of Faro University, was also author of some of the research papers presented at the seminar.
He emphasised that the meeting was an “excellent opportunity for all agents with a role in the orange production sector to meet and exchange experiences and knowledge”.
Among the numerous papers presented at the meeting, there was some enthusiasm about research that is already developing species of orange trees more resistant to brackish environments, like those that exist in the Algarve region.
Through the Salcitrus project, “we hope that, in the near future, dry years are no longer a problem, with some of the species already surviving rather salted water”, said Amilcar Duarte.
A good practices guideline was also presented at the seminar. The document was originally proposed by a producers’ association, Uniprofrutal, but also took on board contributions from the researchers and is now being adopted by Portuguese authorities.
The guideline aims at establishing a unique and recognised procedure that helps producers to get proper quality certifications and compete in the international markets.
The meeting was also used to analyse world and European trends in the farming and food sector, specially the consuming threats coming from the growing markets of China and India as well as the new EU agricultural programmes until 2013, where orange production appears as one of the growing production sectors.
According to Amilcar Duarte, one of the biggest challenges in the near future is that farmers may keep on developing their business without jeopardising the environment.
“Most of the scientific papers presented at the seminar had a strong environmental concern and showed alternatives for an effective reduction in use of chemical substances in farming,” he said.
He also underlined that this concern is having a good reaction from the production community, contrary to what could be the dominant perception from consumers.
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