Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Beyoncé's Black Power Message

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Merkel's Migrant Conundrum

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Defense lawyer say Hissene Habre had the power of life and death over his people

Read more

THE DEBATE

Can She Fix It? Merkel and the Refugee Crisis (part 2)

Read more

THE DEBATE

Can She Fix It? Merkel and the Refugee Crisis (part 1)

Read more

FOCUS

Arab Spring's unfulfilled promises

Read more

ENCORE!

'Vinyl': Jagger and Scorsese's TV drama on sex, drugs and rock'n'roll

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

"The trial of a Liar"

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

Bert Koenders: ‘We cannot solve the refugee crisis by closing borders’

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

2016-02-08 Tunisia

Arab Spring's unfulfilled promises

In January, Tunisia saw a week of protests as people voiced their anger over unemployment and corruption. The country is often held up as an example of one which survived the...

Read more

2016-02-05 children

Transgender children: Embracing the transition process

A generation ago, only adults would go through the daunting, but often liberating, process of changing their gender. Today, a growing number of children and adolescents undergo...

Read more

2016-02-04 Syria

Syrian refugees forced into statelessness

In Lebanon one in five people is now a Syrian refugee. The country closed its borders over a year ago, and the government has become more restrictive in issuing residence...

Read more

2016-02-03 jihad

Belgium's Molenbeek seeks to restore tarnished image

In the wake of the Paris terror attacks, the working-class district of Molenbeek, in the suburbs of the Belgian capital Brussels, was blamed. As the days passed, the...

Read more

2016-02-02 poverty

Fears after India’s surrogacy crackdown

The Indian government announced plans to ban surrogacy services for foreign couples in October 2015, sending notices to fertility clinics around the country to stop accepting...

Read more