Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Ebola: Mali's first case dies

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Queen Elizabeth tweets

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The world this week - October 24 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The world this week - October 24 2014

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Art rocks and shocks Paris

Read more

#TECH 24

Samsung's Gear VR Reviewed

Read more

#TECH 24

How to become a Cyborg

Read more

ENCORE!

Paris rediscovers Picasso

Read more

#THE 51%

Should freezing your eggs be a company benefit?

Read more

Our Focus programme brings you exclusive reports from around the world. From Monday to Friday at 7.45 am Paris time.

FOCUS

FOCUS

Latest update : 2009-12-16

When Spain's vineyards turn to dust bowl

Fifteen years ago, the rolling slopes of Andalusia were covered in vines, producing the grapes used in the sweet Moscatel wine. But little by little farmers have left the region. Like more than 30% of the land in Spain, Axarquia is under threat from desertification.

FRANCE 24's correspondent in Madrid, Adeline Percept, explains how desertification is blighting the Spanish landscape, while rural economy expert Amanda Cheesley, live from Brussels, takes a look at the threat to other parts of the continent.

 

Fifteen years ago, vines used to grow on the plains of the mountains in Andalusia, producing the grapes used in the sweet Moscatel wine. But little by little farmers have left the region. Like more than 30% of the land in Spain, Axarquia is under threat from desertification.

José Antonio Marin-Marin is one of the few people to continue growing crops here. “The landscape changes a little bit more every day. Even the almond and olive trees are completely dry! It still isn’t raining, and we’re in winter!”, he says.

Since the summer it has only rained twice here – 35 millimetres in total. The lack of water has made José-Antonio change his crops: “An avocado tree needs 100 litres of water a day in summer. And at the moment, since it doesn’t rain, I have to continue watering them! So, in the field, I’ve changed the crops. We plant young mango trees. When they are grown, we will cut the avocado trees down. Simply because mango trees guzzle a lot less water.”

José Antonio is obliged to grow more tropical fruits and to grow other crops in greenhouses. Here, he’s come to the same conclusion as Greenpeace’s scientists: climate change also helps parasites to breed. “Because of the lack of water and the excessive heat, the tuta parasite from Peru breeds very well – the whole year – in southern Spain,” he says.

Two hundred kilometres away, the Tabernas Desert has the highest temperatures in Europe. In the foothills of those plateaus, almost all the arable land has been abandoned. “The desert is moving north, that’s clear,” says Paco Gonzalez, a farmer. “The land here used to be farmed. Today, there’s a bit of livestock farming but no crops.”

Andalusia was the first Spanish region to introduce a plan in 2007 to tackle climate change. Gloria Guzman is one of the scientists in charge of evaluating the effects of climate change. “There are a lot of regions where we’ve seen a lot of social tension over water in the last few years. In Andalusia, there’s already not enough water for everyone! Do you think that the Pyrenees are going to halt this process? No! After Spain and Portugal, these problems are going to spread to the rest of Europe, that’s clear,” she says.

Thanks to the use of natural fertilisers among other techniques, Gloria’s team has shown how olive growers can reduce the fossil energy they use by 80%. But according to her, the region’s efforts will be useless without the introduction of radical measures at a world level.
 

By Adeline PERCEPT

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2014-10-24 Ukraine

Ukraine's crippled elections

This Sunday, Ukraine is holding parliamentary elections, but some parts of the country won't be voting. The war between government forces and Russian-backed separatists continues...

Read more

2014-10-22 India

Indian uranium mines take heavy toll on locals and environment

India recently signed a nuclear power agreement with Australia and is entering tough negotiations with Japan on new power plants. The aim is to obtain a cheap source of fuel for...

Read more

2014-10-23 Tunisia

Tunisia: Religious education claims bigger role in curriculum

In Tunisia, final preparations are underway for Sunday's parliamentary elections. They are the second since the revolution almost four years ago, and the first since a new...

Read more

2014-10-21 London

London now the world's most expensive city

Soaring property prices and spiralling living costs are nothing new in London. But the British capital has now officially knocked Hong Kong off the top perch for being the most...

Read more

2014-10-20 Turkey

Video: Turkey ‘turns blind eye’ to border-crossing jihadists

It’s a scene Turkish activist Sehbal Senyurt has grown accustomed to witnessing.

Read more