Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Central African Republic : the UN takes over the country's peacekeeping

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Fighting back against facial recognition

Read more

DEBATE

Fighting ISIS - What coalition against jihadists? (Part two)

Read more

DEBATE

Fighting ISIS - What coalition against jihadists?

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Reed Hastings, Netflix co-founder and CEO

Read more

ENCORE!

U2's Free Album Annoys Some Fans

Read more

FOCUS

Lebanon: Islamic State organisation advances on refugee camps

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

Kostyantyn Yeliseyev, Ukrainian Ambassador to the EU

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

Italian FM to lead EU diplomacy: Is Mogherini up to the task?

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

2014-09-15 refugees

Lebanon: Islamic State organisation advances on refugee camps

After Iraq and Syria, Lebanon appears to be the next theatre of operations for the radical Islamic State organisation. Arsal, a remote town on the Syrian border, has become the...

Read more

2014-09-12 World War I

The ghosts of German-ruled Namibia

Over a century ago, Germany colonised what is now know as Namibia. In the years that followed, tens of thousands of Africans were killed and all opposition was crushed. After its...

Read more

2014-09-11 humanitarian action

Calais struggles with flood of UK-bound migrants

For years, the northern French city of Calais has been a transit point for some of the world's most desperate people: migrants from countries like Syria, Eritrea, Afghanistan and...

Read more

2014-09-10 sport

Invictus Games: Veterans continue fight on home front

In the UK, hundreds of injured servicemen and women have gathered from 13 countries for the first Invictus Games, the brainchild of Prince Harry. Based on a similar idea in the...

Read more

2014-09-09 India

'Linguistic Apartheid' in India?

In India, a simple English test has caused thousands of students to hold protests. They say the entrance exam for the civil service is elitist and discriminatory. In a country of...

Read more