Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Chaos and confusion after Brexit, Istanbul Airport attack (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Bitter Divorce: Chaos and confusion after Brexit (part 1)

Read more

DOWN TO EARTH

Extinction crisis: Saving the planet's species from an irreversible fate

Read more

#THE 51%

Unlocking the code: Women refugees offered classes in coding

Read more

#TECH 24

Viva Technology!

Read more

ENCORE!

Marcia Gay Harden, a down-to-earth Hollywood star

Read more

YOU ARE HERE

France’s Camargue region and its herdsmen

Read more

FOCUS

The steady rise of women in Taiwanese politics

Read more

FASHION

For summer 2017 menswear, designers interrogate the complexity of modern life

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

2016-07-01 Taiwan

The steady rise of women in Taiwanese politics

Back in January, Taiwan elected Tsai Ing-wen as its first ever female president. But that result wasn't a complete surprise, as women have been making great strides in the...

Read more

2016-06-30 USA

Zika virus spreading fast across Puerto Rico

Last week, the World Health Organization made a move which will have enormous social implications for the countries hardest hit by the Zika virus. It recommended that millions...

Read more

2016-06-29 Bolivia

Will Bolivia see a lithium boom?

One of the poorest South American countries is hoping to raise its fortunes. With the world's largest lithium reserves, Bolivia aims to become a top producer of the precious...

Read more

2016-06-28 France

France struggling to recruit prison imams

In today's edition we meet with a Muslim prison chaplain, an imam who visits French prisons in an effort to shield inmates from radical Islamism. Many observers accuse the...

Read more

2016-06-27 India

Drug dealers of hope: Activists fight for access to life-saving Hepatitis C cure

Hepatitis C, a liver disease, causes approximately 500,000 deaths every year. Luckily, there is a miracle cure patented by the American pharmaceutical giant Gilead. But for most...

Read more