This is considered to be the largest avocado monoculture plantation in Europe and draws 3.5 million litres of water daily from the already overloaded aquifer.
In 2014, a family business in Loulé bought a large plot of land of 150 hectares in the Barão de São João area of Lagos municipality and established an avocado plantation. Originally, 80 hectares of avocados were planted, with subsidies from PDR2020 (about 600 thousand euros).
First they destroyed all the vegetation, then they removed all the stones, even the largest, and damaged the characteristics of the soil. Later, they wanted to extend the farm to another 50 hectares, but this time, due to the pressure on the aquifer, on the water resources, they could not get the approval of the CCDR and the APA, since they would be connecting to the already existing plantation and a 40 hectare golf course nearby. This way they could not expand.
In the meantime, another company appeared to Frutineves that also wanted to install avocados.
Both wanted to settle in this area because DRAPAlg had informed them that there is a lot of water at this place because of the aquifer.
This new company also started to clean and destroy all vegetation, including cork oaks, carob trees, olive trees, fig trees, almond trees and all dry trees.
In May 2019, the CCDR imposed an embargo on Frutineves so that it would not plant anything before an environmental impact assessment was carried out. In June, the company began planting. Not only did they purchase more land, but they now own about 13 plots (130 hectares), installed the entire irrigation system and planted all the trees after the embargo was imposed. Although the GNR Sepna went there several times to inspect them, they could not stop them from continuing to plant the avocados.
An environmental impact assessment is then required by law.
“These companies cause enormous damage without bringing any benefit to the area. They’ve come here, they use water from the aquifer that should belong to everyone, they use toxic herbicides [glyphosate], they harm the environment and people’s health, they don’t create jobs because they’re highly automated projects, and they’ll export all their production through a Spanish company that guarantees the purchase of the entire production of the vast majority of companies in the Algarve. According to DRAPAlg itself, the water they distribute daily from the two plantations, which have a total area of around 200 hectares, is equivalent to 3.5 million litres of water. At a time of drought, when the Algarve is in a state of extreme aridity. This is truly regrettable”.