Droughts Threaten Olive Crops in Southern Europe

Farmers in Europe are concerned as continuing drought conditions and high temperatures throughout southern Europe are threatening crops like wheat, olives and almonds.

Jul. 20, 2017
By Isabel Putinja

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Hot and dry weather, heat waves and for­est fires in sev­eral coun­tries across South­ern Europe have cre­ated drought con­di­tions that are threat­en­ing crops like wheat, olives and almonds.

The region has been expe­ri­enc­ing below aver­age rain­fall for most of 2017 which, cou­pled with high sum­mer tem­per­a­tures, has con­tributed to what the media are call­ing the worst drought in decades.

If we want to sus­tain our qual­ity agri­cul­ture, we need to reor­ga­nize our­selves to col­lect rain­wa­ter when it falls.- Coldiretti Pres­i­dent Roberto Mon­calvo

Cereal pro­duc­tion in Italy and Spain is par­tic­u­larly affected and has fallen to the low­est level in 20 years. Olive pro­duc­ers in both coun­tries are ner­vous about the upcom­ing crop after suf­fer­ing a bad har­vest last year due to harsh weather and pests.

Coldiretti, Italy’s farm­ers’ union, has esti­mated that two-thirds of Italy’s agri­cul­ture are affected, rep­re­sent­ing up to €2 bil­lion in dam­ages to the sec­tor. La Stampa news­pa­per reports that the south­ern region of Cal­abria is worst hit, with an esti­mated loss of €310 mil­lion for olive grow­ers who are expect­ing a 35- to 40-per­cent decrease in pro­duc­tion.

Mean­while, losses of €200 mil­lion have been reg­is­tered in the wheat crop in Cam­pa­nia and Tus­cany, and provinces in the Piemonte region are see­ing a 30-per­cent decline in their wheat pro­duc­tion. In the agri­cul­tural provinces of Parma and Pia­cenza, the gov­ern­ment has declared a state of emer­gency which should offer some finan­cial relief to farm­ers there.


European Drought Observatory

Coldiret­ti’s pres­i­dent, Roberto Mon­calvo, told La Stampa that a new cul­ture of pre­ven­tion” is urgently needed: If we want to sus­tain our qual­ity agri­cul­ture, we need to reor­ga­nize our­selves to col­lect rain­wa­ter when it falls,” he told the news­pa­per. We can no longer per­mit our­selves to lose 9 out of 10 liters of rain­fall.”

In Spain, farm­ers are telling the media that this is the most cat­a­strophic drought they have expe­ri­enced since 1992. In the regions of Castile and Leon where cere­als rep­re­sent the biggest crops, losses are esti­mated at around 60 to 70 per­cent. The grape and olive har­vests are also under threat as high tem­per­a­tures and dry weather are fore­cast for the weeks to come.

Drought con­di­tions have also been observed in many parts of France, Bel­gium and parts of North­ern Europe.

A map released by the Euro­pean Drought Obser­va­tory revealed veg­e­ta­tion stress due to a rain­fall deficit in regions in all south­ern Euro­pean coun­tries as well as parts of France, Bel­gium, Ger­many, Switzer­land, Swe­den, Fin­land, Ukraine and Belarus for the first ten days in July.

A June 2017 report by ISCIENCES had warned that much of Europe will suf­fer a water deficit through 2017.

In addi­tion to the heat waves that have affected south­ern Europe over recent weeks, for­est fires sparked by the dry and hot weather have rav­aged the Ital­ian regions of Cam­pa­nia, Cal­abria, Puglia and Tus­cany, and parts of Spain, Por­tu­gal and Croa­tia, adding to the dev­as­ta­tion.

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