In the face of free records, “disaster” farmers in southern Spain

In the face of free records, “disaster” farmers in southern Spain

In Andalusia, this April is historic: an episode of catastrophic drought and temperature extremes dries out the crops a little more. However, some have solutions.

37 degrees at the end of April: Heat records have been broken in recent days, almost everywhere in Spain, in the grip of a very early heat wave. The first victims are the farmers, who suffocate from the lack of rain.

>> Heat wave in Spain: “With the onset of drought so early, we can fear a series of catastrophes”, warns a climate scientist

In El Carpio, east of Córdoba, Andalusia, on the lands of Bartolome Jurado, there is no irrigation system for grain fields scorched by the sun and drought. This 72-year-old was counting on the heavens to irrigate 28 hectares, but, ha-ha, the last rain, not heavy, dates back to the beginning of the year. “Here, normally, everything should be green. But with the drought, our crops did not resist. Wheat, barley, beans, everything is dry, we won’t be able to harvest anythingHe laments before taking us across the fields by seeBehind the wheel does not hide his fatigue:Last year was an ordinary year. It wasn’t good, we were already short of water, but it ended up raining and we were able to save the crops. But this year, no: everything is dry. Look at the ground, it looks like a desert! It’s a big disaster. All small cultivators like me will eventually disappear“.

Antonio Carmona, a tomato producer near Cordoba (Spain).  (Omar Osman/Radio)

So Bartolome has to abandon his crops, due to the lack of rain. In the region, only irrigated crops are resistant to this drought. To grow these tomatoes, Antonio Carmona, from the municipality of Alcolea, still near Córdoba, has to pump water from an underground aquifer that allows him to irrigate his one-hectare plot crushed by the heat. “Tomato plants are stressed. With this heat, I have to water them more. These temperatures are not normal for us, but also for them. Those temperatures are July or August, not April“, Progressing.

“We depend 100% on the climate”

The problem: Water is an increasingly scarce commodity in the south of the Iberian Peninsula, an area also known for its olive trees. Here, too, production is severely affected. Spain is the world’s largest producer of olive oil, but its yields are expected to decline according to Jaén’s Francisco Elvira, who presides over a 34-hectare olive grove, including much of it rain-dependent.

It’s an outside culture, we are 100% dependent on the climate. And those temperatures during this sensitive period are likely to put crops at risk, because we’re in full bloom. And when temperatures are above 32-33 degrees, the flower dries up, dies, and does not bear fruit. There is no production, so we’ll have a problemSlices, worried.

Drought and temperatures threaten 50 hectares and 16,000 olive trees for Fernando Lopez Ruiz, 33. However, he breathes: he anticipates the period that southern Spain is going through by investing 6 years ago, more than 150 thousand euros in an ultra-modern irrigation system. Water is pumped directly from the Guadalquivir River 20 kilometers away and irrigate olive groves as far as the eye can see. “Water from the Grand Canyon comes here all the way. This is the most cost effective system and the least wasteful of water. This system has no loss, which makes it possible to anti-desertification and anti-heat“, Confirms.

María José Polo Gómez, hydrologist and professor at the University of Cordoba (Andalusia).  (Omar Osman/Radio)

We have to change the paradigm, that’s the truth.

However, Spain questions its agricultural model. Water consumption in this region often exceeds available resources. Intensive agriculture, very water-intensive, was defined by María José Polo, hydrologist and professor at the University of Cordoba. “The situation is as dramatic for surface water as for groundwater, because we have not controlled the increase in consumption. It is not domestic consumption, but the most basic thing in Spain: irrigation. It accounts for 80% of water consumption in Spain. We have increased the areas to be irrigated, and therefore we always We use more water. We don’t farm anymore, it’s not sustainable: we have to change the paradigm, that’s it, reality,” she insists.

Many avenues are being studied, such as diversifying production or betting on more water-efficient crops in this part of Europe, one of the regions most affected by climate change.

READ  Saudi Arabia opens airspace to all airlines, including Israelis

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *