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Posted by portugalpress on November 26, 2015
German and Central European markets are seen as potential medronho buyers
“The best of the best” medronho trees are cloned and grown on the estate
The ‘medronheiros’ can be sold as trees for people’s gardens
Project manager Ricardo Jacinto says the cloning process allows them to be “confident” that the medronho trees will thrive

A hugely ambitious project to create a mega medronho plantation through the art of cloning is underway in the Corte Velada estate in Bensafrim, Lagos.

The idea is headed by a Norwegian couple who bought the land after seeing it devastated by fires in 2003.

They now want to fill the area up with trees again, and are already well into doing so – 180 hectares of the 271-hectare estate are already being used to cultivate ‘medronheiros’. A rural hotel to provide board for visitors is also in the making. All in all, the couple plans to invest €69 million in the project.

Speaking to Barlavento newspaper, project manager Ricardo Jacinto explained that his team has selected only “the best of the best” medronho trees in the Algarve to clone and grow on the estate.

According to Jacinto, the cloning process allows them to be “confident” that the medronho trees will thrive. Using seeds from other trees would have been a possibility, he says, but it would not provide the same guarantees of success that cloning does.

Apart from seeing the area thrive once again, the project will also be used for three business-related purposes.

The ‘medronheiros’ can be sold as trees for people’s gardens, for example, while their fruit can be sold fresh or dehydrated and can also be used to create the famous Medronho aguardente ‘firewater’.

German and Central European markets are seen as potential medronho buyers, but Jacinto explains that first the team has to “optimise production” in order to guarantee supplying buyers on time.

For now, the goal is to make sure the cloning process goes according to plan.

The results so far have been “excellent”, says Jacinto, with 400 ‘medronheiros’ successfully grown.

Hotel moves forward with new PDM
A major part of this project is the construction of a hotel, which will allow people to visit the estate and see how medronho is produced.

The idea had been on hold since Lagos spent over a decade without a municipal masterplan (PDM), but it is now set to move forward.

Also on the agenda are three walking trails that will allow visitors to “discover Corte Velada”.

The trails were cleared along water courses and should be ready by next month. Anyone keen to walk them needs to book in advance.

The project has also seen eight dams being built to ensure the estate is not left without water in times of drought.

It has also received strong support from Lagos mayoress Joaquina Matos, who believes Corte Velada can play an important role in the development of the municipality’s more remote areas.

“It is an important and structuring project for Bensafrim,” she told Barlavento, adding that she hopes it will “contribute to the revitalisation of the municipality’s inland areas both in terms of employment and environment”.

Photos: ANA SOFIA VARELA

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