Alentejo Olive Oil Sustainability Program promotes debate on social and cultural issues associated with the region’s olive-growing sector

Olive Sector

After the 2021 campaign, Portugal will become the 6th largest olive oil producer in the world and the 3rd largest exporter in the European Union. The growth of the olive-growing sector, registered in recent years, is essentially due to the appearance of new irrigated areas – highlighting the example of Alqueva – which have made it possible to install modern and efficient olive groves and the consequent installation of mills.

The Alentejo Olive Oil Sustainability Program was born from the need to solidify this growth, and its main goal is to certify this product, demonstrating that it is produced in a sustainable way and reinforcing its value. The certification is being developed with the technical and practical knowledge of the Association of Southern Olive Growers (Olivum), the promoting entity, with the scientific and theoretical capital of University of ÉvoraThis is a tool that is technically rigorous, and practically applicable.

This set of agents that will materialize the certification was formalized as the project’s official pilot group last May, where the scope of the certification was discussed. In June the pilot group met to discuss more specific topics, such as soil management and biodiversity conservation.

On September 6th, the pilot group for the Alentejo Olive Oil Sustainability Program met again, this time to discuss other specific issues that the certification will address: the social dimension of sustainability and cultural heritage. The session started with an opening speech by Gonçalo Almeida Simões, Olivum’s Executive Director, followed by presentations by Professor Rui Fragoso, from the University of Évora, and by Archaeologist Tiago do Pereiro, from Era – Archaeology, which aimed to trigger discussion and sharing of ideas among the group.

During the debate, the group pointed out the importance of each producer surveying and evaluating the cultural heritage existing on their farm, preserving it correctly, and valuing it, sharing it, and making it known to society. The group did, however, show concerns about the high bureaucracy and lengthy process that this survey and assessment entails. The desire to value olive oil as a historical product, characteristic of Portuguese culture and of the Mediterranean diet, through museums, interpretive centers, or road maps, was also expressed.

Regarding social issues, the olive industry testifies as to what they already do to promote greater proximity and involvement with their workers and the community, such as: the training and conditions offered to their employees, hiring local labor and suppliers, recruiting young interns who have attended universities in the region, opening their property for recreational activities such as hunting or fishing, engaging with academia in studies and field trials, providing monetary support to associations and social support structures, or opening their olive grove or mill for study tours for preschool, elementary or high school students.

However, the group showed concerns about the difficulty that currently exists in acquiring and retaining workers despite the conditions offered. The importance of a transparent relationship with the community, parishes, municipalities, and neighbors was also stressed, opening whenever possible the doors of the olive groves and olive presses to let the population know what is done there.

The Alentejo Olive Oil Sustainability Program will continue to work on certification and recognition of the value of the olive oil sector. Follow the project on its social networks, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram, or subscribe to its newsletter.

September 13, 2022

On June 30th, a debate on the management and conservation of biodiversity and soils in the olive grove, was promoted by Olivum and the University of Évora

Olive Grove

Last June, olive growers and olive oil producers, participated in the 2nd Focus Group of the Alentejo Olive Oil Sustainability Program (PSAA), to discuss the management and conservation of biodiversity and soils in the olive grove.

The event began with the opening speech by Gonçalo Almeida Simões, Olivum’s executive director. Next, and in order to start the debate, a video by Professor José Rafael, a lecturer at the University of Évora, was presented on the management and conservation of biodiversity and soils, divided into several sub-themes.

Counting on an active and participative audience of over 20 participants, a vote was held on the sub-topics that they consider a priority to be included in the reference tool produced in the scope of the project. The chosen sub-topics were: management of non-productive areas and awareness of the importance of biodiversity in the olive grove.

After the break, there was still time to open up the debate to the remaining sub-topics covered in the previously mentioned video, thus getting an idea of what the participants’ opinions were on the issues that received the fewest votes.

Olivum and the University of Évora will continue to promote these sessions so that the referential is always developed in cooperation with those in the field. Follow the project’s developments by following the PSAA on its social networks: Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn, or by subscribing to the project’s official newsletter .

September 13, 2022

The debate for the sustainable future of Alentejo olive oil continues in the sessions promoted by Olivum and the University of Évora

Last May 4th, more than 30 participants gave life to the 1st Focus Group of the Alentejo Olive Oil Sustainability Program. The main objective of the meeting, which took place via Zoom, was to open the discussion to relevant themes for increasing resilience in the face of the sector’s challenges.

Last May, dozens of olive growers, olive oil producers and Olivum members, along with experts from the University of Évora, were true pioneers with the opening of the 1st Focus Group of the Alentejo Olive Oil Sustainability Program. The event had an active and participative audience, which allowed us to touch on several points within the themes: olive grove irrigation, by-product management, energy efficiency, and soil management.

The session also resulted in the formalization of a pilot group, which is committed to walking hand in hand with the Alentejo Olive Oil Sustainability Program (PSAA), contributing with the knowledge of those in the field, in order to support the development of a precise sustainability benchmark, adapted to the specificities of the olive oil sector in the Alentejo region. For the members of the pilot group, participation in these sessions also brings numerous advantages on an individual level, in that they will be the first to benefit from the benchmark, demonstrating to civil society and other economic agents that they are on the front line in the search for sustainable solutions for the sector.

On June 30th, the 2nd Focus Group of the Alentejo Olive Oil Sustainability Program will take place under the theme “Management and Conservation of Biodiversity and Soil”. To follow this project closely, subscribe to the newsletter or visit PSAA’s social networks, and stay tuned! The sustainable future of Alentejo olive oil is being built here.

September 13, 2022

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