In collaboration with Consulai
WHY INVEST IN AGRICULTURE IN PORTUGAL?
Portugal is well-known for the quality of its agriculture products. Olive oil, wine, fruits, vegetables and many other products are highly valued in international markets. Part of the secret relates to the mild Mediterranean climate, with warm and sunny summers, and a fresh breeze from the Atlantic coast. This, together with the availability of water resources, explain why Portugal has recently been (re)discovered by international agricultural investors.
Notwithstanding, the biggest advantage of agriculture in Portugal is the calendar. Effectively, in Portugal farmers have the capacity to produce earlier than in Northern and Central Europe, allowing get higher prices for their products during the pre- season, with high quality products. An increasing number of foreign investors are developing new projects in the irrigated areas of Centre, Alentejo and Algarve regions, in order to extend the harvests in their countries with crops in Portugal.
SOIL AND IRRIGATION REGIONS
Despite the small size of the country, the topographic conditions are significantly different in the North, in the Centre or in the South of Portugal. In the North, the slopes are steep, the landscape is dominated by forest and most of the properties are very small (less than 1 ha!).
In the Centre and in the South, the slopes are usually slight, but the topography is diverse. In the west (Oeste) region and the Tejo valley (Ribatejo), respectively North and Northeast of Lisbon, there are thousands of hectares of plains with good soils that have been irrigated for many years. In the Southeast of Portugal, in the Inner Alentejo region, there is another plain.
The soils present in Portugal are quite diversified and provide a great variety of options, with different potentials for agricultural use. The major irrigation schemes in Portugal (more than 5,000 ha of land) are located in the Alentejo region, the Tejo Valley and the Centre of Portugal. Alqueva, in Alentejo, is the biggest irrigation scheme in Portugal.
Public Irrigation Areas
|Region||Existing Area (Ha)||Potential Area (Ha)||Total (Ha)|
|Alentejo||191 912||46 855||238 767|
|Algarve||13 046||7 146||20 192|
|Centre||39 099||5 182||44 281|
|Lisbon and Tagus Valley||31 714||5 658||37 372|
|North||10 511||4 179||14 690|
|Total||286 282||69 020||355 302|
Source: Consulai (based on DGADR)
MAJOR IRRIGATION CROPS
Olive is the most representative Portuguese agricultural product in terms of planted area, followed by grains and wine. However, in terms of exports value, wine is the dominant product. Over the last five years several products recorded a relevant exports growth, namely Berries and Other Fruits as well as Almonds, which value more than duplicated. Despite not being amongst the most important agriculture products in value of exports, almonds represented €55 million in exports in 2021, increasing by 8 times its value since 2016.
The majority of irrigation crops are located in the Centre and Alentejo regions, with the exception of the North region were the famous Douro vineyards are located. We have been observing an increase in the plantations of almond trees both in Idanha and Alqueva zones. We also highlight the Algarve region, in the south of the country, where historically oranges have been the predominant crop but other tropical fruits such as mango and avocado have been gaining terrain quickly, in the more recent years.
Major Crops per Irrigation Region
|Trás-os Montes||Almonds, apples, chestnuts, stone fruits and olive oil|
|Cova da Beira||Apples, cherries, other fruits|
|Idanha||Nuts, namely almonds and walnuts, pistachio|
|Baixo Mondego||Corn, horticultures (mainly fresh produce), rice|
|Ribatejo (Tejo Valley)||Corn, rice, tomato, vegetables (fresh and industry)|
|West Region||Fruits (apple, pear), horticultures (fresh) and vineyards|
|Alqueva||Almonds, apples, beans, colza, horticulture, olive oil, pears, stone fruits|
|Alentejo West Coast||Berries, horticulture|
|Algarve||Oranges, tropical fruits|
In the Portuguese agribusiness market, it is more frequent to have lease or managing contracts over land sites rather than sale transactions, due to the low availability of properties for sale as the land is still predominately held by Portuguese families, with complex corporate structures and many stakeholders. Lease contracts are typically for a 25-year period.
However, the number and size of transactions has increased considerably over the last years. Around 20,000 ha of irrigated land for agribusiness development were transacted in 2021 and c. 31,000 ha in 2022. The agribusiness market is effectively boiling and the purchase of land portfolios by international investors has been boosting annual figures. North American investment through Iberian structures, has been the most representative.
Almond and olive are the preferred crops. The Alqueva and Idanha irrigation regions include over 90% of the land area transacted. In Algarve, despite the propitious climate for tropical fruits, due to the small average area transacted (< c. 5 ha), the region is still not very representative in the investment market.
Prices have increased in excess of 15% over the last year. The value per hectare for greenfield properties with irrigation infrastructures in Alqueva can currently achieve 30,000€/ha (for permanent crops) and 35,000€/ha in Idanha. The gross prime yield for a greenfield leased property is 4.5%.