“The impact of the drought has been truly devastating over many months and has only been mitigated by the recent autumn/winter rains. It affected, and in reality, still affects most cultures and regions, but the effects were more severe in the south of the country, where rainfall was less significant, especially in the Algarve, with a crisis situation that is now highly visible”, pointed out the general secretary of CAP, Luís Mira, in response to Lusa.

At stake is the current culture, the survival of producers and plants, he said, adding that in Alentejo, even with the “Alqueva effect”, the situation was critical, with the absence of pastures and watering facilities for the animals.

Associated with a reduction in production is an increase in imports and prices, due to factors such as increased transport costs.

Even so, as Portugal is part of the European market, a lack or scarcity of agri-food goods is “highly unlikely”.

The Government announced a set of measures to combat the drought in the Algarve and Alentejo, such as reducing urban consumption in the region by 15%, compared to the previous year.

With regard to agricultural supply, a 50% cut is planned in the volume entitled for irrigation in the Sotavento hydro-agricultural perimeter, a reduction of around 40% in the volume used for irrigation from the Funcho reservoir and a 15% drop in abstraction of underground water for irrigation.

“In a scenario of absolute emergency, in which we have to face a situation that entails high economic and social costs for the regions in question, the announced measures are, first and foremost, unfair for farmers, since, being neither proportional nor equitable, leave us at the mercy of complete bankruptcy”, stated Luís Mira.

CAP recalled that many jobs and the viability of several companies are at stake, highlighting the need for a specific support plan for companies that will be left without income.

For the confederation, the measures are still insufficient when it comes to combating the effects of the drought, being nothing more than mere “palliative care”.

Thus, he stressed that the Government, “even though it is in management […], cannot sit idly by, showing the usual inertia”.

In addition to support for farmers, which must include special and emergency measures, such as simplified 'lay-off', CAP calls for the reactivation of municipal boreholes and simplification of procedures for opening new boreholes.

On the other hand, it is necessary to review ecological flows and adopt structural measures for the management and storage of water resources.

“It is necessary to invest in the modernization of existing hydraulic infrastructures, ensuring minimum losses of water resources, and it is necessary to invest in new ventures and distribution channels that, in addition to efficient water storage, allow water to be taken from points where there is an abundance to those where is scarce”, he noted.

Despite being aware that implementing these investments will take time and a lot of money, CAP assured that these choices must be made today, as the drought situation will tend to worsen.

“For many farmers, it will, unfortunately, be too late”, he concluded.