At a time when annual rainfall grows less and what does fall, comes in catestrophic downpours, does it make sense to continually increase crop expansion?
This is a question that they are seriously considering over in the Axarquía, which is the only area of the province of Málaga that has water-shortage restrictions in place.
This concern is covered in a book entitled, La Burbuja de Los Cultivos Subtropicales y El Colapso Hídricos de La Axarquía, compiled by the Gabinete de Estudios de la Naturaleza de la Axarquía (GENA). This organisation took four years to accrue the data and process it ready for publication.
The book concludes that based on data from 2017, the area used much more water than envisaged by the Hydrological Plan for that year, which was just over 86 cubic hectometres, as the actual consumption exceeded that amount by 14.4 c/hm.
According to the ecologist group, GENA, when taking into account water consumed by irrigation, domestic use, livestock farms and golf, the area is actually consuming just over 100 c/hm of which 64.7 c/hm went exclusively to the irrigation of tropical-fruit plantations.
We’re used to hearing about housing bubbles but what we are dealing with is a subtropical-fruit, economic bubble; just the same as more and more land is taken up for speculation building development, more and more former secano land is being turned over to thirsty subtropical fruit production.
Greenhouses over on the Costa Tropical have in recent years had overproduction of cucumbers and other intensive farming produce, ending in tonnes upon tonnes being left to rot because of a glut in the market.
On both the Granada and Axarquía coasts we have seen a boom in mango production – not long ago it was hardly cultivated but now everybody is growing them and the price has dropped dramatically.
But getting back to the book in question, the ecologists calculated that the total surface area being irrigated is 12,989 hectares, of which 9,881 hectares correspond to subtropical fruit.
To break that down further, 6,383 hectares are for avocados and 3,497 hectares are for mangos. The rest are either greenhouse produce or citric orchards.
So, we end this article as we began it, if each year it rains less and each year more crop surface requiring irrigation is brought into being, the end result can only be disaster.
(News: Axarquía, Costa del Sol, Malaga, Andalucia – Photo: Wikipedia, Public Domain)