LUSA 07/10/2024

Lusa - Business News - Portugal: Alentejo grain production higher, quality inferior

Elvas, Portugal, July 9, 2024 (Lusa) — Cereal production in the Alentejo has increased this year in quantity but with lower quality due to leaching from the soil caused by excess water that washed away fertilisers, a group of producers warned on Tuesday. Speaking to the Lusa news agency, the head of Cersul - Agrupamento de Produtores de Cereais do Sul, José Maria Falcão, also pointed out that this agricultural year fortunately has "no drought", mainly in the district of Portalegre. However, there are some occasional cases in the Baixo Alentejo.

"It's a year without water problems, in some places even with excess water in periods that were unnecessary," he said.

Cersul has around 210 members, representing a total area of around 40,000 hectares, mainly in the Alentejo districts of Portalegre and Évora.

According to the same leader, it has been "a good year" in terms of the quantity of cereals, but "not a good year in terms of quality".

"There was a lot of leaching and fertiliser washed away with the excess water. On the other hand, it was very difficult to reconcile the nitrogen fertilisations that give the grain more quality and protein," he explained.

José Maria Falcão also pointed out that cereal producers are recording high average yields but grain quality values that are "well below average," citing the durum wheat sector as an example.

He emphasised that related to this type of cereal, there is "a very serious problem," which is the fall in the price paid to producers.

"Last year, durum wheat reached 400 euros per tonne, and now, in international prices, it doesn't reach 250 euros," which "is completely disastrous," he said, lamenting: "It's very difficult to produce cereals with this irregularity."

When asked about maize production, the Cersul manager pointed out that it is "guaranteed" in the Caia river region, in Elvas (Portalegre), but emphasised that "less and less" of this type of crop is grown in the region.

The Caia irrigation perimeter, he emphasised, "is sustained" by crops such as olive groves, almond trees and tomatoes and "almost no corn is grown", despite it being "a good year" for this type of cereal.

Cersul - Agrupamento de Produtores de Cereais do Sul was the country's first grouping of cereal and oilseed producers to be set up.

Based in Elvas, it was created in 1990, recognised as a producer group in 1991 and as a producer organisation in 2012.

 The company is responsible for receiving, conditioning and marketing cereals and oilseeds, as well as acting as a central purchasing centre for production factors and providing services.