Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FOCUS

The health risk behind Argentina's soya paradise

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

Disability discrimination: Removing the obstacles to success

Read more

ENCORE!

Music show: Mumford & Sons and the 'Queen of British Blues'

Read more

FASHION

30th International Festival of Fashion and Photography in Hyères

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The Right to Offend: Writers to Boycott Charlie Hebdo PEN Award

Read more

DOWN TO EARTH

Ethiopia's green renaissance

Read more

REPORTERS

Syria: On the trail of looted antiquities

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

The prosecutor who could save Baltimore

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

France could surpass Russia in arms export league

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

2015-05-01 Lebanon

Lebanon's Roumieh prison: Iron-fist policy against a jihadist hub

In Lebanon, the number of people locked up for jihadist activities rises every month. They're filling up the cells of the notorious Roumieh prison near Beirut. The overcrowded...

Read more

2015-04-30 environment

The canal project dividing Nicaragua

Nicaragua is planning to build a massive canal, three times as long and twice as deep as the Panama Canal. But the $50 billion project, funded by a Chinese millionaire, has its...

Read more

2015-04-29 Germany

Germany faces housing conundrum for asylum seekers

Germany receives the biggest number of asylum applications in Europe, and finding accommodation for all of these people is proving difficult. With state reception centres full,...

Read more

2015-04-28 Ebola

Video: Experimental Ebola vaccine gives hope to Guinea

The Ebola outbreak has killed close to 11,000 people in West Africa. Although the infection rate has fallen sharply, the disease is still active, particularly in Guinea, where...

Read more

2015-04-27 cyber crime

France steps up cyber defence in wake of attacks

Since the Paris terror attacks in January, thousands of French websites have fallen victim to cyber attacks. Just two weeks ago, hackers claiming to be from the Islamic State...

Read more