The almond exchange - a link between Portugal and Spain - has already started
The TransFarmers - Transforming Farmers' Communities project has started, in the scope of the ERASMUS+ program, an Iberian exchange for cohesion and promotion of inland territories with emphasis on good practices in almond exploitation.
In early February, the Food4Sustainability CoLAB team visited the province of Almeria (Spain) - the largest organic almond production region in the world - in order to visit and learn about the AlVelAl agronomic and commercial project. The trip included a visit to the "Cortijo El Ciruelo", "La Junquera" and "El Entredicho" farms, considered Iberian references in good regenerative practices.
On April 18th and 19th, the AlVelAl team came to Idanha-a-Nova and Baixo Alentejo to know the Portuguese reality, visiting farms with regenerative practices and intensive and super intensive production modalities in these regions.
The AlVelAl team, led by Miguel Gomez, technical and scientific director, and head of field, had the opportunity to know the regenerative project Real Idanha, Lda - Azeite Egitânia, Ricardo Couchinho's farm, and the new intensive and super-intensive almond farms of Agro Water Almonds and Veracruz.
The visit also included a debate in the Intermunicipal Community of Baixo Alentejo (CIMBAL) on the rural challenges and opportunities in agricultural practices in the Portuguese almond and olive groves. The sharing of experiences ended with a visit to two almond farms of different sizes, both with sustainability concerns, including water management, application of synthetic chemicals, biodiversity, among others.
These visits demonstrate the existence of projects with various degrees of sustainability in Portugal and Spain. These practices will serve as a reference to those interested in joining the exchange in Spain that will take place between May 26th and 28th. All those interested can register via the TransFarmers website.
This project comes at a time when we are witnessing a growth of almond culture in the Iberian Peninsula, particularly in intensive and super-intensive systems. Extensive almond production plays an important economic and cultural role in the Iberian Peninsula, with Spain being the largest Mediterranean producer and the second largest producer worldwide, with 10% of production. In Portugal, almond production is expanding, with traditional extensive orchards being replaced by intensive orchards, particularly in the Idanha-a-Nova and Alentejo regions. Encouraged to invest due to attractive prices in international markets, the recognized quality of Mediterranean almonds and the abundance of water, more and more farmers are opting for almond and olive groves. However, the intensification of almond farming poses challenges to local communities, changes landscape and puts pressure on resources (soil, water and local unemployment), challenges to which TransFarmers wants to respond.
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Or contact, Cláudia Costa, F4S Project Manager
About the TransFarmers project
TransFarmers, organized in partnership by Food4Sustainability CoLAB and AlVelAl Association, aims to promote the exchange of best practices in almond farming for farmers and other stakeholders. To this end, visits are streamlined between Portugal and Spain, namely Idanha-a-Nova and Almeria - reference regions in almond production.
TransFarmers focuses on intensive almond farms, due to the high landscape implications, economic potential, and extensive application of successful interventions to preserve local heritage by a consortium member: the Aland Foundation. TransFarmers focuses on creating reskilling methods for adult education and promoting an Erasmus+ experience across all citizens and generations.
Among the various activities planned under TransFarmers is the development of two studies to assess the obstacles faced by farmers and rural communities with changing modes of almond cultivation and identifying successful best practices - investing in regenerative practices in almond can increase the value of ecosystem services by 17-28% in just one year. This project aims to organize two workshops to create a network of almond producers and promote synergies between all stakeholders (farmers, companies, research units, municipalities) in order to form and develop an "almond school".
About the Food4Sustainability (F4S) CoLAB
The F4S CoLAB is a collaborative laboratory located in Portugal that aims to solve large-scale problems in biological food systems (e.g. food, fish, algae, vegetables) in order to achieve climate resilience. The F4S CoLAB is at the forefront of the shift from linear agri-food production processes to circular processes. The goal of the F4S CoLAB is to test and implement new approaches in food production systems that positively impact: CO2 mitigation, no use of chemicals, sustainable intensification (maximizing land use), preservation of water bodies and environmental impact, and increased efficiency in the food value chain.
The Aland Foundation supports AlVelAl, a multi-stakeholder project that aims to restore one million hectares of semi-arid plateau landscape. AlVelAl has conducted over 70 workshops, agro-coffes,, individual coaching, applied its agricultural assessment system, and published agricultural guides. More than 3000 people have so far benefited from this knowledge transfer. AlVelAl is also running projects to diversify the production ecosystem with the Almendrehesa concept and cooperates with universities and institutions such as the Spanish High Council for Scientific Research. To enrich the value chain, increase farmers' livelihoods and avoid land abandonment, AlVelAl promotes entrepreneurship and founding cooperatives and companies to process raw products (such as almonds). AlVelAl also links gastronomy with tourism and agriculture and has participated in networks such as "1000 landscapes for 1 million hectares", cooperating with strong partners such as Commonland.