Many disillusioned portuguese city dwellers are returning to farm the land after the failed promises of soviet-style industrialization.
One man, a Jose Diogo, spent years in the Nations capital, Lisbon, as a technical advisor for a meat company until Portugal’s debt crisis of 2009. He returned to the land that his father owned and began to tend the apple orchards and cattle.
Now the Portuguese government is trying to encourage others to follow suit.
February marked the beginning of the country’s initiative to map out land that does not have a known owner with the goal of making the land available to be rented to anyone who wants to work the land.
There is also a land exchange scheme where private owners of land can get tax benefits to make their land available to be rented by farmers to increase land productivity.
Lisbon’s town hall is also renting small farming plots around the city’s periphery as well for those who don’t want to move so far into the countryside.
The fee is 80 euros per year for 150 square meters of land. The land includes a wood shed and water supply.
Frederico Lucas started a consultancy company that caters to people who want to start up businesses in the interior.
Daniel Alvarenga writes for Reuters,
“Lucas blames the country’s crisis on years of easy money that failed to reach any productive use, including billions of euros in European Union funds that was poured into building infrastructure like highways, libraries, schools, hospitals and pavilions, many of which are in the interior and barely used.
“This infrastructure is now built and, although the money often went to the wrong things, we must now activate them,” he said in his office integrated into the library of the town of Alfandega da Fe, an example of such a public investments.”
Daniel goes on to write,
“In a country where unemployment is at all-time highs of 14 percent, the minimum wage is 485 euros and the minimum retirement pension is 254 euros, cultivating a vegetable patch has its attractions.”
While returning to the land doesn’t solve the country’s financial crisis it helps the people become more self-sufficient, which eases anxiety. Perhaps the U.S. could adopt some of the same programs and incentives to help its people.