thVÉLEZ-MÁLAGA – The drought in the Axarquía region in the Málaga province of southern Spain is putting thousands of direct jobs at risk. That is what Trops, the main European distributor of avocados and mangoes, says.
The persistent dry weather, which is ravaging much of Europe and also being felt in the eastern regions of Málaga, threatens farmers and could destroy thousands of hectares of irrigation. Producers and distributors of fruit, vegetables and subtropical crops therefore rely on the Andalucian government’s promise to speed up the granting of the permit for the new desalination plant.
The Malaga agricultural union Asaja estimates that over 5,000 direct jobs are at stake, as well as countless indirect jobs. If no changes are made, dozens of wells in coastal communities will run out of water. This puts the main source of income of more than 2,000 families at risk.
Measures may come too late
The problem is getting closer because the forecasts for the rest of spring are very negative. This dry and warm period that started in February seems to have no end. Everything indicates that the hydrological year ends with an accumulated deficit, built up over the past three dry years. “We are very concerned because, as we said years ago, the measures may come too late,” said Baldomero Bellido, president of Asaja, in La Opinion de Málaga.
Sustainable desalination plant
The ongoing project to desalinate water using solar panels is supported by the agricultural cooperative Trops in Vélez-Málaga with more than 3,000 members. The sustainable design of this desalination plant was conceived by the Institute of Home Automation and Energy Efficiency (IDEE), which depends on the University of Malaga. It is self-sufficient in terms of budget, thanks to the private contributions it has collected. Furthermore, the model includes floating solar panels to withstand dry spells.
The Andalucian government hopes that the entire administrative process to award the project will be completed in the coming months. At the same time, the Junta is working on new support measures to maintain the competitiveness and economic viability of rural areas in the province.
To this end, the Junta de Andalucía has approved three decrees. The first and second decrees lower the tax rate for agricultural and livestock farmers and all products produced in Andalucia. The third decree provides support for the following;
- hydraulic engineering works
- pipes for irrigation
- improvement of the water supply
- the search for new water sources
- reduction of water losses
- digitization of water management.
This decree also includes direct support measures for Andalucian farmers, pastoralists and fishermen. The total budget is €43 million. Part of this will go to direct aid, the expansion of water supply lines, calls for subsidies for water infrastructure and a circulating capital credit line.