“We must assume that we will have this crisis in the future”, said Jorge Palmeirim, in statements to Lusa agency, regretting that no measures were taken before the dams reached current levels.
For Palmeirim, there are crops that are "a mistake" in the south of the country, such as corn plantations, due to the amount of water they require.
At this moment, he defended, cuts in water should be applied, especially in the agricultural sector, prioritising the supply of populations.
“It is necessary, from now on, to cut back in agriculture in an intelligent way”, he advocated, exemplifying that the avocado culture in the south of the country also has a high consumption of water.
“When there is a lot of water, the tendency is for farmers to plant what makes the most profit, when there is a crisis, they do not want to stop watering, because they have made investments. It’s a vicious circle,” he said.
According to Jorge Palmeirim, there was a lack of preventive measures for periods of drought, justifying at the moment a campaign for the agricultural sector, but also industrial and urban ones on saving water.
“When we build a dam, the irrigated area is also increased. New dams could help solve the problem if the irrigation area is not increased,” he said.
Decrease in water
The drought, he assured, will not pass: “It will get worse. The availability of water in the south of the country will decrease. We should see the drought as a warning”.
Contacted by Lusa, Jorge Palmeirim stressed that the existing plans increase the amount of irrigation in agriculture, contrary to what would be expected.
“Basically, it is exacerbating the problems we are experiencing. It is the same thing as having a train coming towards us and instead of running away from the train, running towards it”, he declared, referring to a plan also criticised by the environmental association QUERCUS.
According to QUERCUS, more than a month after the end of the public consultation on the study “Irrigation 20/30 – Survey of the Development Potential of Public Initiative Irrigation in the Horizon of a Decade”, and the legal deadline for its dissemination had passed, the opinions and contributions collected remain to be published.
Lack of transparency
The association considered that “an unacceptable lack of transparency” is at stake, and after accounting for the planned investments, it expressed itself against the amount allocated, in various programmes.
The association understands that the “severe drought” that is plaguing the country “at unprecedented levels” requires answers to fundamental problems and a work of articulation and involvement of all sectors, competent entities and civil society.