Coming of a desert

by Kirtiman Awasthi

, by CSE

Winemakers in Spain could soon find themselves scrambling for juicy red grapes. People may also find olives and cheese missing from their salad plates.

The olive and grape farms that thrived in the balmy Mediterranean could become relics of the past with countries like Spain facing the prospect of desertification. Almost 35 per cent of the country is at risk.

So far, desertification is known to have threatened 20 per cent of the world’s population, mostly from dry and arid countries, forcing poor people to migrate.

But now it has started taking a toll on rich people’s diet. The reason for this complacence was the belief that deserts are formed due to climatic variations such as decreasing rainfall and increasing soil erosion. But several other factors also contribute to it.

A new study linked it to socioeconomic activities such as overgrazing and policies promoting livestock production. This explains why savannah-like grasslands in Spain, with a relatively balanced ecology, are turning into deserts. The study suggested that socio-economic factors such as overgrazing, growing water demand for agriculture, unsustainable pattern of consumption, government policies promoting profit-driven farming and infrastructure expansion are the indicators of desertification. Read more