Thursday, 15 May 2008

Arouquesas & hunger in Moura morta

This cow breed, called Aroquesa, is typical of the mountains of central and northern Portugal. I met this cow and the bull in the village of Moura Morta, close to Castro Daire. I asked why people still keep so many cows. "It's for the subsidy" they told me. Of course they use the cows in farming: for traction and dung, but neither meat nor milk are produced for sale. It's the subsidy that keeps these cows and their owners alive.
Farmers have a very low retirement allowance, sometimes not reaching 200€. Even if they don't have to pay rent because they have their own home, it is not enough to pay the monthly expenses. So they have to produce food for their household needs and try to earn some extra money.
I asked the people how they explain that there are still so many cows in their village but so few in other villages. They said: "It's because we are very poor. The soil of our village is not very fertile. Farmers in this village never earned enough to invest in machinery."
After visting the village Moura Morta I met a woman selling fish in the market of Lamego. She is from the neighbouring village Mezio. She told me very lively about the villages, and besides she was just some years older than me at times she pretended to be a knowelgable elder and called me "my daugther". She told me as well that these villages are very poor, and she said people there sometimes still suffer from hunger. This possibility shocked me completely.

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