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An archive image of a parched La Viñuela reservoir in Malaga province. Ñito Salas
Fear of water shortages slows the cultivation of vegetables and planting of second crops in the province
Drought crisis

Fear of water shortages slows the cultivation of vegetables and planting of second crops in the province

The drought situation is pushing farmers in Malaga to the limit as they are unable to secure irrigation from wells or purified water

Matías Stuber

Malaga

Tuesday, 29 August 2023, 18:09

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Farmers in Malaga province are delaying planting crops due to ongoing drought concerns and fears of water shortages.

President of the provincial young farmers's association Asaja, Baldomero Bellido, told SUR this would impact particularly on tomatoes, onions and peppers, and said the farmers' fears are justified. "The year has already been very hard. It is logical that nobody wants to risk spending money on planting something when the chances of it being ruined by the lack of water are very high," he said.

About 164,686 tonnes of vegetables were produced in 2022, which resulted in a turnover of 129.9 million euros. According to sources in the sector, these figures will be considerably reduced. "We are talking about the market garden of Malaga. Tomatoes, green beans, aubergines, tomatoes, cucumbers and courgettes," Bellido pointed out.

Ramón Gómez is one of these farmers who does not want to risk further losses. "I can't risk throwing money away. Right now, either you have treated water or a well with water. Anything else is a gamble," he said. Vegetables need continuous irrigation. One day without, he said, is enough, but two days without water would destroy the crop.

How do you ensure that enough water reaches the crops?

That is the biggest concern in the agricultural sector right now. Bellido said that those who are on the safe side are those who use recycled water. They are also, in turn, a minority. He called for the construction of new desalination plants in the province as a solution.

It's been a scorching summer, with temperatures so high that the rains of May and June had little impact to ease the drought. "There will be no respite. The temperatures are very high and I fear that we are going to have several days with or around 40 degrees", Bellido said about next week.

There are also concerns for permanent crops, such as olive groves. Trees that are not irrigated are in danger of being left in very poor condition. The olive groves have been very dry for several years and if the last harvest was the worst in 20 years, the next one could be even worse, Bellido added.

Subtropicals

Avocado and mango suffer from drought like no other crop. Dependence on water is crucial. In some areas of the Axarquia, a reduction of up to 90% of crops is predicted.

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