in Andalusia even olive trees suffer from thirst

We must not imagine rows of trees, dead of thirst, in the Andalusian hills. When they lack water, the olive trees, resistant, solid, do not succumb, in the fields that line the village of Cuevas del Becerro, northwest of Malaga. But they hardly produce any more fruit. “The olive tree does a bit what other plants do with drought”explains Juan Antonio Garcia, a farmer, in the middle of his property. “The olive tree stops vegetating, creating new leaves. It paralyzes all its activity to consume less water. See? It becomes ugly and its leaves dry up.” Olives that have grown anyway, often through artificial watering, are often small and wrinkled.

Wrinkled olives due to drought.  (JULIE PIETRI / RADIO FRANCE)


“The consequence is that, for example, in my municipality the losses will exceed 80%, which has never happened before. And in Andalusia we expect losses of 50%”
. This man, who would like his children and grandchildren to still work the olive tree after him, knows that the future looks difficult.

“What is happening to us is not bad luck. We are already immersed in climate change”

Juan Antonio Garcia, olive grower in Andalusia

to franceinfo

Andalusian farmer Juan Antonio Garcia in front of his olive trees, in Cuevas del Becerro, northwest of Malaga, Spain.  (JULIE PIETRI / RADIO FRANCE)

These upheavals and the speed with which they occur are the subject of study by Enrique Salvo Tierra. This researcher from the University of Malaga leads a brand new unit, on climate change: “What worries us most are the maximum temperatures during the summer months, which this year broke all records. Then the nights, hot, with temperatures that do not drop below 25 ° C. It causes stress to living organisms. , not only for Homo sapiens, but also for plants and other animals. “. According to several scientific studies, olive production in southern Spain could decrease by 30% by 2100.

For more than a century, in order to cope with the irregularity of the rains and to develop agriculture, Spain has invested heavily in a system of water reservoirs. They are regularly at very low levels, even completely dry in Andalusia. They are no longer THE solution, explains Luis Babiano, the manager of the Spanish association of public water and sanitation operators. “Spain is the third country in the world for the number of reservoirs per inhabitant. The water economy in Spain is really very mature. What does this mean? That it will not really be possible to build more reservoirs.”

“The solutions do not always go hand in hand with the creation of more offers, but rather with the sustainable use of economic, social and environmental spaces”.

Luis Babiano, manager of the Spanish Association of Water Operators

to franceinfo

Some farmers are therefore starting to diversify and plant less water-consuming crops, such as pistachio. “If you have time, come and see these pistachio crops”casts Juan Antonio Garcia.

An Andalusian pistachio tree.  (JULIE PIETRI / RADIO FRANCE)

Away from its olive groves grow young pistachios, not yet very bushy, more than two meters high. “It is a plant with a future”says the farmer. “It’s very hardy and doesn’t need to be watered.”

“The problem is that the tree must be at least eight to ten years old to give a harvest, double the olive tree. It is therefore a harvest that requires a lot of patience, a harvest when young. For my nephew who is under 30 years old. , will pay “.

Juan Antonio Garcia, olive grower in Andalusia

to franceinfo

Spain therefore focuses on pistachios, whose agricultural area has increased tenfold in less than ten years.

Leave a Reply

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