This is the third phase of a project covering an area of 647 hectares (477 hectares of walnut trees and 170 hectares of almond trees) in São Manços (Évora) and Veiros (Estremoz) and which, explains the company in a statement sent to Lusa, "will strongly encourage the growth of walnut production" in the country.

The factory will have capacity to process "not only the production of the Sogepoc Group, but also that of third parties", which will "have processing solutions and for the growth of the sector in the country".

The processing line will allow, among other things, the "shelling of walnuts and the production of innovative derivative products, such as walnut oil or walnut milk".

It is also a project with a "strongly export-oriented framework" and will have a "relevant impact on the local economy" in terms of the creation of around 80 direct and indirect jobs, as well as the impact on the region's "business ecosystem".

Sustainability and energy efficiency", as well as "product and technological innovation" are other aspects highlighted by Sogepoc.

"The walnut processing line is a critical activity in the walnut production chain, which includes the removal of the green outer shell, nut washing and drying. With this new phase of vertical integration, the aim is to control the quality of the final product and ensure the sustainability and traceability of production," the company said.

Amongst the sustainability factors included in Sogepoc's project are "irrigation efficiency", through monitoring with probes, the use of "solar energy", the "inter-row greening" of the plantations, the "use of the shell as fertiliser" and the "reuse of processing water".

Sogepoc also uses "atomizers equipped with optical sensors to reduce the use of phytopharmaceuticals" and will establish "protocols with the University of Évora and INIA [National Institute of Agricultural Research] to study good agricultural practices".