Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Trump Administration, Trukey Crackdown, French Presidential Race (part 1)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Trump Administration, Trukey Crackdown, French Presidential Race (part 2)

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Aux Champs-Elysées: The story behind France's most famous avenue

Read more

#TECH 24

Foosball gets its own social network

Read more

YOU ARE HERE

Inlays and veneers: The art of French cabinetmaking

Read more

PEOPLE & PROFIT

How should companies respond to a Trump Twitter attack?

Read more

#THE 51%

Trump abortion funding ban: Europe tries to fill the breach

Read more

REPORTERS

Video: India’s Kuki people, possible descendants of one of Israel's lost tribes

Read more

FOCUS

France: Migrants offered financial incentives to return home

Read more

FOCUS

Our Focus programme brings you exclusive reports from around the world. From Monday to Friday at 7.45 am Paris time.

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

2017-02-24 France

France: Migrants offered financial incentives to return home

France is one of several countries in Europe that offer financial incentives to migrants who agree to go back home. The system is seen as one way of dealing with the migrant...

Read more

2017-02-23 Middle East

Arms race: Delegations eye lucrative deals at Abu Dhabi military fair

The world's largest military fair is wrapping up in the United Arab Emirates. The IDEX exhibition attracts mainly African, Arab and Asian officials who are shopping for weapons....

Read more

2017-02-22 Africa

#BringBackOurInternet: English-speaking Cameroon hit by digital blackout

Since mid-January, minority English-speaking regions of Cameroon have had their internet access cut off. These regions have seen anti-government protests in recent months, and...

Read more

2017-02-21 Europe

Migrant crisis: How Italy is training Libyan coast guards

In a bid to crack down on human trafficking in the Mediterranean, the European Union and Libya are working together. As part of the EU's operation Sophia, officers in the Libyan...

Read more

2017-02-20 Americas

North Dakota: Sioux tribe stands firm against pipeline project

In the US state of North Dakota, members of the Sioux tribe of Standing Rock have been defying oil companies and authorities for several months. They want them to scrap a plan...

Read more