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Grape production begins in force on Santiago 12 Mar�o 2015

The pilot experience of a vineyard on the island of Santiago has begun to bear fruit. On a plot of land measuring almost one hectare in João Varela, in the municipality of Ribeira Grande de Santiago, nearly 6,000 vines of various different varieties of grapes have been planted. The initiative is that of farmer and agricultural engineer Óscar Duarte, who is best-known as a soccer player and as the former coach of Cape Verde’s national selection.

Grape production begins in force on Santiago

Óscar Duarte decided to invest in grape production after being inspired by an experience his late father had some years ago. The former soccer player imported 5,600 grapevines from Portugal with a single objective: to produce grapes to sell all over the country.

Óscar Duarte does not intend to become a winemaker. “To go into that area of business there would have to be a favorable climate on the island of Santiago. What’s more, winemaking is very expensive,” explains the agronomy engineer.

On his property, the plants are watered daily using a drip irrigation system. For Duarte, the cost is high – he spends some 2,000 escudos every day on fuel to pump water from a well located near his plantation.

Duarte has yet to see a return on his investment, and, as such, is considering taking out a bank loan to reinforce the area in which the vines are planted. The first harvest should take place in 2016, he believes.

Meanwhile, Duarte will travel to Fogo in the coming days to get an up-close look at the experience of the island’s grape-growers during the current pruning season. He will then return to Santiago, where he also invests in fruit and vegetable production, as well as animal husbandry.

Óscar Duarte earned a degree in agriculture in Portugal’s Santarém Agricultural School. In Angola, where he was a political prisoner during colonial times, he also worked the land – a passion that continues in his native Cape Verde, although his fellow countrymen tend to identify him with sports.

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