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Portuguese irrigators ask for the financing of irrigation to be strengthened with the National Recovery and Resilience Plan

The irrigators argue that the Alvito / Ocreza dam, in the Tagus, and the water efficiency plans of the Alentejo, should be included in the PRR, as well as incentives for the installation of renewable energy in agricultural operations.


Portuguese irrigators proposal.

In a document sent to the Portuguese Government, within the framework of the RRP's public consultation, and in a meeting with the Secretary of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Rui Martinho, on February 24, FENAREG, the National Federation of Irrigators of Portugal , highlighted the importance of strengthening funds from the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (RRP) to increase water storage capacity and increase the efficiency of water and energy use in agriculture.

As a consequence of climate change, a significant reduction in average annual inputs is expected and Portugal has the capacity to retain only 20% of the available water, which represents a serious problem for the supply of water to agriculture and the population. Our country must, therefore, prioritize investment in the elevation of some dams, the construction of new dams in the most disadvantaged hydrographic basins and the creation of hydraulic connections to transfer water to the most needy basins.

The RRP is an opportunity to invest in irrigation that should be taken advantage of, including also supporting the Alentejo Plan or any other region that is identified and investment to solve the problems of water regularization in the Tagus basin.

"Only with the sustainability of the infrastructures will we be able to modernize the existing irrigation infrastructures, bringing them closer to agriculture technology 4.0 and equip new areas with precision irrigation, creating a more resilient and sustainable agriculture for future generations", says the president of FENAREG.

Another priority identified is the energy sustainability of irrigation, directly linked to the more efficient use of water. FENAREG argues that the RRP should include funds to encourage the installation of renewable energies in irrigated and hydro-agricultural farms, as well as the creation of energy communities, with Irrigation Associations having a strategic role in collective irrigation systems. "We have to be more efficient in the use of energy, as an expensive production factor and we want to contribute to a zero carbon economy", guarantees José Núncio.

It is recalled that according to the version of the RRP submitted to public consultation, direct investment in irrigation represents only 1.3% (188 million euros) of the aid that Portugal will receive from Brussels, a total of 13,944 million euros in subsidies. The investment in irrigation planned by the Government is limited to the Algarve and Madeira Water Efficiency Plan and the construction of the Pisão / Crato hydro-agricultural use.

FENAREG proposed to the Government at the beginning of 2020 the adoption of a National Irrigation Strategy, that is, a long-term vision to modernize irrigation and for the sustainability of the national productive capacity, with ambitious environmental goals. To implement this strategy, 1.7 billion euros will be needed in the medium term. In addition to the aid to irrigation in the CAP, 750 million euros are foreseen in the National Investment Program 2030 for the modernization of irrigation, a figure presented before the pandemic and the consequent economic impacts, and which FENAREG identifies as reinforced by the different Structural Funds available, ie the current opportunity to use the RRP.

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