The Tavira Centre for Agricultural Experimentation (CEA) houses one of the largest collections of fruit trees in Portugal and it is a genetic bank of dozens of varieties of species: there are 44 species of carob tree alone, and there are also hundreds of varieties of citrus trees and vines.

The continuation of this study and characterisation work among the 29 hectares of vineyards, carob, fig, almond, olive, pomegranate, loquat or apple trees faces difficulties, such as the lack of personnel to renew the technical staff, Pedro Monteiro, regional director of Agriculture and Fisheries, told Lusa.

"We have to look to the future and our idea is, on the one hand, to rehabilitate this centre, to open it to society, to schools, to other administrative bodies, to universities, to show the valuable work that is done here," he said, citing the amount of money needed for rehabilitation at more than €200,000.

The varieties that exist in the centre were collected throughout the region after an identification and location work carried out by DRAP/Algarve technicians, and they constitute - with the citrus fruit collection located in Patacão (Faro) - a germplasm bank that compiles each of the varieties, some of which are not commercially suitable and in danger of disappearing.

According to João Costa, an agronomist at DRAP of the Algarve, in the vineyard area alone, there are 84 varieties dedicated and suitable for red wine production, 98 varieties suitable for white wine production, but also 56 of table grapes for consumption in fresh red and 42 of white, as well as 44 varieties of carob.

These species were recovered in the whole region, from the windward side to the lee side, from the coast to the mountains, in partnership with farmers in the region, he added.

This genetic collection allows them to study the suitability of the varieties for the region and help any farmer who wants to make a vineyard in the Algarve to understand how they behave against adverse factors like pests, diseases and climate.

On the other hand, it allows the preservation of castes that were in danger of extinction, recovering this genetic material for future generations, the technician said.