… but prices will continue to rise
The Diario dos Acores reports that the President of the Agricultural Association of S. Miguel told the Diário dos Açores that there is no shortage of cereals in the region, but prices will continue to increase due to the scarcity of the product in international markets.
Jorge Rita talks to Diário dos Azores:
“Cereal production in the Azores is very residual, so practically everything is imported, with the difficulties that we all know at present, but there is no rupture in the Region”, declares Jorge Rita, given the concerns that have been raised in recent times, particularly in the national market.
“We continue to source from international markets, but given the difficulties, prices are increasing substantially and will continue to increase”, he adds.
According to the leader of the farmers, “the only food where we are still self-sufficient is forage corn for animal feed”, but for the compost of the rations we have to import”.
Return to producing cereals in the Region?
For Jorge Rita, it is beneficial that the Region is now concerned with reflecting on the return to cereal production in the Azores, namely corn and wheat, “but we still have a long way to go, because we do not have drying warehouses, there is no enough silos and, therefore, a whole new cycle has to start and this does not happen overnight”.
Even for the eventual importation of large quantities of cereals, Jorge Rita says that we do not have the necessary infrastructure for this.
“Hiring a large freighter to go to the international market is very expensive, bringing it is another problem because we don’t have 3 tugs as these large freighters require, we don’t have enough cranes and the response capacity is insufficient for large barns”, explains the President of Associação Agrícola, concluding that, due to all these difficulties, the prices of food, namely of rations, will continue to rise.
Concerns in the country?
There is also no food shortage in the country for now, but there are those who are worried about the future.
Jorge Tomás Henriques, President of the Federation of Portuguese Agro-Food Industries (FIPA), has no doubts in concluding that, given the destruction of the logistical structure for the production and transport of cereals from Ukraine — which regularly supplies Portugal —, “earlier or later we will be faced with a shortage of goods for the agro-industry and, on the other hand, with food prices soaring”.
According to the Minister of Agriculture, Maria do Céu Antunes, “the European Union only produces 40% of the cereals it consumes and, when we look at Portugal, the country only produces 18% of the cereals it consumes. There is no autonomy, and from the point of view of public policy, we have to introduce improvements to create conditions to increase this autonomy and not become hostages, as we feel now, when we import, for example, 40% of the corn from Ukraine”.
The official made a point of stressing that the supply in Portugal is not compromised because of the cereal crisis, even so, he insisted on underlining that Portugal is working, in line with the European Union, so that the country starts to produce 38% of what it consumes instead of the current 18%.