Spanish farmers struggle with lack of rain

Mar 11, 2012 by Gabriel Rubio
A dry barley field on the outskirts of Sarinena in the Spanish region of Aragon. Like the rest of Spain, Aragon is suffering its worst drought in decades, with crops struggling to grow as farmers leave the land untilled

When Manuel Montesa takes sheep out to forage in mountains in northern Spain, he must bring water for them because streams near his town have run dry.

Like the rest of Spain, his home region of Aragon is suffering its worst drought in decades. It has left crops struggling to grow, caused pastures to dry up and forced to leave land untilled.

"If there is no pasture, we don't know where we are going to get grass or some other type of feed, and at what price," said the 27-year-old farmer who usually takes his sheep to graze in lands near the town of Sarinena.

Farmers in Aragon -- which includes the provinces of Huesca, Teruel and Zaragoza -- will lose around 1.3 billion euros ($1.7 billion) this season due to the lack of rain, according to farmers' association ASAJA.

The drought has also caused habitual summer to come early: they have already ravaged hundreds of hectares in the north.

The commission that regulates water used for irrigation in Aragon warned in December that the region's had only one quarter of the water needed for a "normal" growing season.

The Sotonera reservoir, one of the biggest in the region, has dropped to 40 percent of its capacity.

have already limited .

"I am 50 and I have never seen anything like this. It has not rained since October," said Fernando Regano, a farmer who is also from Sarinena in the province of Huesca, as he stood in his field under a clear blue sky.

The Sotonera lake on the outskirts of Huesca in the Spanish region of Aragon. Like the rest of Spain, Aragon is suffering its worst drought in decades, with crops struggling to grow as farmers leave the land untilled

He points to small, yellowing of barley and which should be standing tall by this time but which have been stunted by the lack of rain.

The average consumption of water per hectare of land should be between 7,500 and 8,000 cubic metres but this year it has been just 2,100 cubic metres per hectare, he said.

"In this plot, if we had the 8,000 cubic metres of water I would for sure be able to raise 20 tonnes of and corn but I am going to have just four or five tonnes in the entire 70 hectare field," he said.

Regano said he left 30 hectares of land uncultivated this year because of the lack of rain. He estimates farmers in the region will see drops in production this season of around 80 percent.

The lack of rain has also pushed up production costs for farmers, which have outpaced any gains in prices for their crops and livestock.

Production costs for livestock growers have risen by 20 percent because the lack of grazing has forced them to buy expensive feed for their animals, according to Spain's Union of Small Farmers (UPA).

"In the 1990s a lamb could cost 40 euros, now the price is around 60 or 70 euros while the price of diesel has doubled in the last eight years," said Montesa.

"This is why there are no livestock farmers any more."

The number of livestock breeders in his region has dropped to five from 40 in recent years and the number of livestock has fallen to 4,000 from 12,000, said Montesa.

"Livestock rearing has decreased sharply because it pays very little for the work it involves," added Montesa's 59-year-old father Jesus who also raises sheep.

The drought has affected the entire country.

The previous three months -- December, January and February -- have been the driest in Spain since at least the 1940s, according to the national weather office.

Authorities are already talking about subsidies for farmers hurt by the but according to Regano what is needed is good water control and new dams to better harness river water.

"It has to rain now. I have the hope that one day it will rain," said Montesa before climbing back on board his tractor.

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User comments : 14

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Vendicar_Decarian
3 / 5 (6) Mar 11, 2012
Meanwhile Local Republican Retards are insisting that Spain is "close to the equator" in order to explain it's drought.

Morons.
Callippo
1.7 / 5 (7) Mar 11, 2012
It's a third article about droughts in Spanish during last few days already. We couldn't solve it anyway. The Spaniards should invest more into irrigation technologies rather than private haciends and summer resorts, or they will end like Greeks. IMO this kind of reports just prepares the EU for their fiscal failure ("you know, we have droughts, so we cannot pay, give us some money from EU fonds").
ryggesogn2
1.6 / 5 (13) Mar 11, 2012
"worst drought in decades."
Which means decades ago there was a worse drought.
What has been done in the past few decades to prepare for this drought?
"what is needed is good water control and new dams to better harness river water."
Nothing.
Callippo
1.5 / 5 (8) Mar 11, 2012
I'm sure, if you would write "it's all about fossil fuel burning, we should stop it ASAP" or whatever else, then the voting trolls like the deepsand, Excalibur and kaasinees would downvote you/us in the same way...;-)
rubberman
2.1 / 5 (7) Mar 12, 2012
No rain for 3 months according to one account, 5 according to another....either way all the damming and water control you can build won't help if there is no water to control...
RitchieGuy
1 / 5 (3) Mar 12, 2012
Southern Spain depends a lot on tourism. Tourists use up water that could be more toward irrigation and the locals' use. But they also need the tourist dollars. I looked at the rain radar for southern Spain. No rain yet.
ryggesogn2
1.5 / 5 (8) Mar 13, 2012
No rain for 3 months according to one account, 5 according to another....either way all the damming and water control you can build won't help if there is no water to control...

But they did NOTHING to prepare. Dams retaine water from previous wet years.
The Mormons proceeded to build many dams in their upstream valleys to irrigate their desert.
kaasinees
0.1 / 5 (22) Mar 13, 2012
But they did NOTHING to prepare. Dams retaine water from previous wet years.

The govt. didn't and I think that is a good point. The western world needs a civil science and engineering community that prepares for these things, the govt has proven itself incompetent over the decades...

The Mormons proceeded to build many dams in their upstream valleys to irrigate their desert.

The mormons are just another govt..
I know you oppose taxes but you are a believe of God.
Let me prove to you how silly this is.

"Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor." Romans 13:5-7
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (5) Mar 13, 2012
God: 1 Samuel8:11-20
11 He said, This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle[a] and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves.
ryggesogn2
1.5 / 5 (8) Mar 13, 2012
"18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the LORD will not answer you in that day.

19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. No! they said. We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles. "
God said we don't need a govt, but if you want one, this is what it will do to you. But He underestimated the cost.
Skepticus
2.3 / 5 (6) Mar 13, 2012
Until people consider every drop of rain from the sky is to be collected from every inch of their land to save for the dry period, this stupidity will continue everywhere. Except for the desserts, almost every country i know is blessed with adequate rainfall over its land. It is the stupid humans' fault, complaining it is too costly to gather and conserve every drop, while they could do away with the shortage for decades or centuries from the money they would have lost over the droughts, if they have the gumption to do it.
Kinedryl
1.7 / 5 (6) Mar 13, 2012
Until people consider every drop of rain from the sky is to be collected from every inch of their land to save for the dry period, this stupidity will continue everywhere.
It's the question of profitability of the water collection. BTW water evaporates even from dams with open surface. There are various solutions for it, but they're expensive. Bellow certain rainfall limit everything what you can do is to leave the country.
ryggesogn2
1.4 / 5 (9) Mar 13, 2012
The AZ natives and Asian Indians have used simple techniques to retain rain water and let it soak in instead of running off.
Skepticus
1 / 5 (3) Mar 14, 2012
It's the question of profitability of the water collection. BTW water evaporates even from dams with open surface. There are various solutions for it, but they're expensive. Bellow certain rainfall limit everything what you can do is to leave the country.

Yes, profitability for some vs the good for all. That's the crux. Consider the mayhem and economic losses of EVERYONE over a period of time of doing nothing, and the cost of implement drastic changes in water management and conservation, what say you? And there are 1001 ways of covering even illiterate duck herder can think of. We heard of billions and billions of costs due to drought, flood, but has billions been spent to mitigate, control, and utilize them? No! It the case of "who cares? I am/we are still REASONABLY well off/doing ok". As the saying goes, none weep until they see the coffin. I don't see people bleeding to death complaining: "It's to costly to stop it"