In a hard-hitting statement sent to the press, environmental NGO Almargem has lamented what it calls the “irresponsibility of the regional agricultural board” over an avocado monoculture in the western Algarve, described as “Europe’s largest avocado plantation”.
The issue centres on the board’s sanctioning of what Almargem calls the “destruction” of huge tracts of “dryland orchards” (indigenous trees that survive with no irrigation) around rural Barão de S. João, northwest of Lagos, in favour of intensive agriculture, in this case avocados which “are the world’s new ‘green gold’”.
Almargem states that it is “preparing a complaint to UNESCO” calling for the integration of the Algarve into the protected area classified as cultural humanitarian heritage of the Mediterranean Diet.
As Almargem explains, right now the company in charge – CITAGO, based in Benafim, Loulé – is committed to extending its project to land that is “equally-occupied by indigenous trees”.
New areas to be planted out reach towards the Espiche golf course where the central motto is “deep within the unspoilt countryside”
“Unspoilt countryside certainly does not include weed killers and other insecticides like dangerous glyphosate used by CITAGO which has provoked a significant fall in the number of birds and insects in the area in recent years, beyond the obvious increase in the consumption of water stored in underground aquifers,” says the statement.
For residents battling for balance, Almargem’s statement could not have come at a better moment. Hopes now are that dialogue and compromise will be forthcoming.