Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Zambian President Michael Sata dies aged 77

Read more

FOCUS

Lebanon: Syrian civil war spillover heightens tensions in Tripoli

Read more

ENCORE!

Art show: From Frank Gehry's glass sails to Paul McCarthy's sex toys

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

US midterms: The battle for Colorado

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Dominique Strauss-Kahn reacts to suicide of his business partner

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

The robot workforce is coming

Read more

WEB NEWS

Video highlights problem of street harassment in New York

Read more

DEBATE

The battle for Kobane: Peshmerga, FSA join fight against IS group

Read more

DEBATE

The battle for Kobane: Peshmerga, FSA join fight against IS group (part 2)

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

2014-10-30 Lebanon

Lebanon: Syrian civil war spillover heightens tensions in Tripoli

Lebanon is suffering from the spillover of the Syrian civil war just across the border. This week the conflict escalated again in Tripoli. The country's second-largest city is no...

Read more

2014-10-29 Yemen

Yemen on the brink of chaos

In Yemen, the security situation has got so bad that the country is on the brink of a fully-fledged civil war. In the month since Shiite Houthi rebels took control of the capital...

Read more

2014-10-28 Germany

Germany: Bavaria struggles to cope with influx of asylum seekers

Germany is seeing a surge in asylum seekers, with 76% more in the first three months of 2014 compared to last year. That's worrying many politicians, particularly in the southern...

Read more

2014-10-27 Poland

Poland rediscovers its Jewish past

This week sees the long-awaited opening of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. It's a highly symbolic event for a country that once had Europe's largest Jewish...

Read more

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