Aljezur sweet potato producers demand “equal distribution” of Santa Clara water

Small and medium-sized producers afraid of being harmed, to the benefit of large farms

The sweet potato producers in Aljezur went public to demand that there be an “equal distribution (sacrifices for all)” of the water from the Santa Clara Dam, “that does not forget small and medium-sized farmers” and does not only take into account large farms agricultural.

The Association of Sweet Potato Producers of Aljezur has thus joined its voice to that of other farmers in the municipality and neighboring Odemira, against possible cuts in water for irrigation, which will affect traditional agriculture, marked by temporary crops, to the benefit of large explorations and permanent cultures.

This morning, Monday, the 15th, around a hundred farmers from both municipalities, as well as other people,  joined the protest called by the Juntos pelo Sudoeste movement that took place outside the Odemira Chamber, where the Ministers of Environment and Agriculture met with the various partners who signed the Water Pact in 2023, to discuss the lack of water resources in the region.

The protesters demanded access to water for everyone and were concerned about the possible reduction of the dam's exploration quota, from which water is already being drawn below the exceptional quota in the Mira Hydroagricultural Development concession contract, which is fixed at 106 meters.

The two members of the Government confirmed at the end of today's meeting that the Santa Clara dam will indeed be operated at a level well below that, 102 meters for agriculture and 100 meters for human consumption, something that will be possible thanks to an investment that should be completed “in the next few days”.


Santa Clara Dam – Photo: Elisabete Rodrigues | Sul Informação


The fear of small and medium-sized farmers is that they will not have access to this extra water that will be possible to withdraw from the dam, since “news is spreading (…) that the distribution of water will only be for domestic consumption and for permanent crops, where crops that were previously considered temporary, such as raspberries, are now included».

«If true, temporary crops will be left out, which includes Aljezur sweet potatoes and also other varieties of sweet potatoes and other horticultural crops», warns the association.

In this way, the producers of the Aljezur sweet potato, of the Lira variety, which has a PGI Protected Geographical Indication, urge the Government to clarify «how the distribution/rationing of water from the Santa Clara dam will be effectively managed this year, clarifying , namely, whether there will be priority crops and beneficiaries».

The association also demands to know «to what extent small and medium-sized farmers and family farming will be included» in the next campaign, and «if any plan exists or is being studied to reinforce the supply of the Santa Clara dam, namely through Alqueva dam».

Finally, producers from Aljezur ask if any plan is being prepared “to respond to the problems of a social nature that will be exacerbated, in the municipalities of Aljezur and Odemira, if the Santa Clara dam stops supplying or drastically reduces the supply of water for agriculture”.


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