UN and Malaga university sign agreement in bid protect local grape

FAO visit to El Borge in 2017.
FAO visit to El Borge in 2017. / SUR
  • Experts fear that climate change and a move towards growing subtropical fruit is endangering the future of the Axarquía grape

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has signed an agreement with the University of Malaga to write a technical report which will look into the vulnerability and resilience of the grape variety grown in the Axarquía.

The grape, which is traditionally dried to become muscatel raisins and used to produce local wine, was given the FAO's Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) distinction in 2017 in recognition of the traditional and sustainable way in which it is grown.

However, researchers fear that a combination of climate and demographic change as well as the growth in the subtropical fruit sector in the Axarquía could be putting the variety at risk.

José Damián Ruiz Sinoga, lead researcher for the project from the University of Malaga, said that the numerous factors "could seriously endanger the survival of this traditional system, leading to a drastic loss of a native species, erosion and desertification."

Around 2,000 families in the Axarquía depend on the sector for their livelihoods. However, many growers are turning to mangoes and avocados instead.