Almond production is about to double in Portugal with new plantations in the last decade, according to the National Center for Dried Fruits (CNCFS).
According to official data, since 2010, this dried fruit has been growing and with the new plantations that will start to bear fruit in two or three years the national production will double to 40 thousand tons. Plantations that are emerging in areas without cultivation tradition, such as the Alentejo.
Still, both in this and other dried fruit productions the country still has plenty of room to grow and it is this perspective, as well as the technical and scientific progress that will be highlighted at the II National Symposium on Dried Fruits, which will take place on Thursday and Friday, in Mirandela, in the district of Bragança.
The initiative brings together Portuguese, Spanish and Italian experts, and is open to technicians and farmers, as Lusa Albino Bento of CNCFS, who organizes the symposium with the Portuguese Society of Agricultural Sciences (SCAP).
“We saw new plantations and the conversion of others with strong growth in Alentejo, but also in Beiras and Ribatejo, which had no tradition in this cultivation, as in Trás-os-Montes and Algarve”, said Albino Bento.
Chestnut is the main product
According to him, ten years ago, in Alentejo there were “between 300 and 500 hectares of almond and now there are 10 thousand hectares”.
In Trás-os-Montes there was “a 10% growth” and, within two to three years, the country is expected to have “twice the production of almonds in shell”, equivalent to “40 thousand tons”.
The sub-row of dried fruits that still leads the way in Portugal is the chestnut, with production concentrated mainly in Trás-os-Montes.
This is, according to Albino Bento, who is also a researcher at the Polytechnic Institute of Bragança, the only sub-row of dried fruits in which the country is self-sufficient and net exporter.
Direct production is worth about 70 million euros, a figure from which the almond is approaching with the prospect of increased production equivalent to a financial movement of about 60 million euros for the producer, according to those officials.
Still, Portugal is far from self-sufficient in almond production and continues to import, with the United States dominating 80% of the world market.
The Portuguese are also starting now to invest in walnut production, with an annual harvest of 4 thousand tons, and still shyly in hazelnut and pistachio or carob.