More grapes and less workers

in World · 30-08-2019 01:00:00 · 0 Comments

The harvest in the Douro has begun, with an expected increase of 30 percent in production this season, but there are increasing difficulties in recruiting labourers to work in the vineyards.

The harvest is the culmination of a year of work and is considered the high season of the oldest demarcated and regulated region in the world. The vineyards are full of grapes and the region is full of tourists who want to see and even participate in the cutting of grapes.


Quinta do Vallado, in the municipality of Peso da Régua, Vila Real district, was one of the first in the region to start with the harvest. First they cut the white grapes, followed within days by the red grapes.


The property has a staff that works all year round and at this time also uses farm contractors and hires people directly from nearby villages.


Francisco Ferreira, who is responsible for Vallado’s agricultural and production management, said that finding labour was a “difficulty” and noted that from year to year more people leave the region and fewer want to work in agriculture.


With an estimated harvest increase of around 30 percent across the demarcated region, labour shortages could also intensify.


Lusa news agency spoke to António Costa, a 56 years old man from Barrô, in the municipality of Resende. He gets up every day at 5am and returns home around 7pm. This worker coordinates the contractor’s grape harvesters at Quinta do Vallado and also said that “it is becoming increasingly difficult to find labourers in the Douro” especially at times when work is intensifying. “You see little youth in the vineyard” he said.


Verónica Cardoso is a worker at Quinta do Vallado, 26 years old, born in Santo Xisto and one of the youngest who was taking part in the harvest. She told Lusa that she likes to “work in the vineyard and outdoors”. “I was born in the vineyards and ended up staying here” she said.


According to data revealed by the Institute of Vine and Wine (IVV), the Douro is expected to produce 1.6 million hectolitres of wine, while last year it was 1.3 million hectolitres. The increase will be around 30 percent more than the previous year and 16 percent more than the average over the last five years.


Francisco Ferreira said that at Quinta do Vallado, production is expected to increase by about 10 percent when compared to 2018.
The official said that in quantitative terms, this will be a “slightly above average year” and explained that because of the little rain, the grape is a little small, however this factor may give “some concentration and quality to the grape”.


According to the IVV, in the region of Porto and Douro wine production “mildew manifested itself in a low intensity way, not generally affecting production”.


The institute also noted that “the climatic conditions, especially in June, with high relative humidity and overcast days, contributed to the spread of the powdery mildew, but without significant impacts on production.”


On the other hand, last year there was hail, mildew and adverse weather conditions, which were reflected in the final production.


Throughout the country, according to the IVV, wine production in the 2019/2020 campaign is estimated to reach 6.7 million hectolitres, a 10 percent increase over the 2018/2019 campaign and 4 percent above the five year average.


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