The municipality and the Algarve Regional Agriculture and Fisheries Directorate (DRAP) will sign a cooperation protocol to implement the project, under which the field will be installed in the area surrounding the Convent of Nossa Senhora do Desterro.
“We will place in Monchique 30 varieties so that farmers can select and use them in their plots of land and contribute to the maintenance of these varieties adapted to a region with successive droughts,” the regional director of Agriculture, Pedro Valadas Monteiro, told Lusa.
The demonstration field will have a Monchique pear collection with replicas of the existing varieties in the collection installed at the Agricultural Experimentation Centre of Tavira (CEAT), which brings together more than 1,000 varieties of fruit trees from the region.
According to him, these are varieties that are well adapted to the Algarve’s climate and that could become “very important” in a scenario of climate change, particularly in a region affected by successive periods of drought.
The installation of the demonstration field in Monchique will allow the recuperation of an area whose importance dates back to the development of agricultural activity, and which is no longer used for that purpose.
In a statement, Monchique council said that in the area surrounding the Nossa Senhora do Desterro Convent, Franciscan monks “encouraged agricultural and irrigation techniques”.
According to the note, the council’s intention is to acquire the remaining plots of land to “rehabilitate the whole area surrounding the convent, giving it back the agricultural functions it once had”.
The initiative also seeks to “reinforce the defensive effect of this ring, creating a fuel management mosaic that will increase the town’s protection against rural fires”.
The municipality recalls that these fruit trees “carry in themselves an incalculable genetic heritage” and that “their very characteristic smell and flavour” are the most predominant mark of this variety of pear.
The preservation of the fruit was usually done in a very traditional way called ‘hanging’, in which the Monchique pears were individually held with a string by the stalk and, in groups of 20 or 30 fruits, hung from the ceiling of houses at a single point.
This practice has fallen into disuse in recent decades, and production of these fruits in the municipality of Monchique is now “quite low “, the note concludes.