Agri SA: Portugal wants Karoo farmers for arid area

2013-05-21 00:00

WHEN Bartholomew Dias and Vasco da Gama rounded the Cape more than 500 years ago, they could not have suspected that centuries later farmers from South Africa would go help fill the larders of their home country.

That could just happen, after Portugal, like several African countries before it, approached Agri SA to send farmers to work land that will soon be under irrigation.

Western Europe’s largest dam is being built on the Guadiana River, south-east of Lisbon near the Spanish border. The project would open up a once-arid area for farming.

Portugal was short of farmers who could operate on a large scale, said Dirk Hanekom, chairperson of Agri SA’s Africa committee, which oversees the settlement of South African farmers overseas.

The area in question is similar to the Little Karoo and would be ideal for grapes and wheat, he said.

French, German and Italian consortiums will also be involved, but mainly as input suppliers. A delegation from Agri SA will soon visit Portugal. More than 800 SA farmers have been established in Mozambique and a group farms in the former Soviet republic of Georgia.

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