canary islands

Tenerife’s South: from verdant autumns to the driest winters

The storm Hermine's transit in 2022 marked the last significant rainfall event in Tenerife's south, producing scenes vastly different from the current landscape.

The agricultural sector in Tenerife and the Canary Islands, in general, is currently facing a multitude of challenges, including overwhelming bureaucracy, rising production costs, declining incomes, unfair competition, and the implications of Agenda 2030. These factors have placed island farmers and stock-breeders in an extremely difficult position, prompting them to take to the streets in protest. This situation is exacerbated by the growing disinterest among the youth in agriculture, posing a significant threat to the continuity of generational change in the sector.

Adding to these challenges is the severe drought that has engulfed the region, creating a dire situation that the Cabildo of Tenerife is addressing by considering the declaration of a water emergency next week. The island’s water reservoirs are alarmingly low, currently below 40% capacity during winter, jeopardizing the agricultural sector’s ability to sustain itself through the upcoming summer.

Tenerife's South: from verdant autumns to the driest winters

Rosa Dávila, the president of the Cabildo, has called for a meeting of the Island Water Council, the public company Balten, and various departments to assess the situation and potentially declare a state of emergency that would impact all residents. The island is experiencing its longest continuous drought, with Tenerife facing the most severe conditions in the archipelago.

To mitigate the crisis, Lope Afonso, vice-president of the Cabildo, and Valentín González, the island councillor for the Primary Sector, have proposed 14 measures focusing on infrastructure improvement, new desalination systems, the use of reclaimed water, and enhanced distribution network efficiency.

Tenerife's South: from verdant autumns to the driest winters

Ángela Delgado, president of Asaga, highlighted the increased water consumption by plants due to reduced rainfall, warning of a possible “catastrophic” situation for crops like potatoes if conditions do not improve soon.

The contrast between the current arid landscape and the verdant scene following the subtropical storm Hermine just over a year ago is stark. Hermine, originating from Cape Verde, brought gentle, windless rains that rejuvenated the land, replenished water sources, and heralded a successful potato planting season. The transformation was remarkable, turning dry, barren areas into lush, green landscapes. Today, however, the island faces parched conditions, with dried-out soil, wilted vegetation, and a countryside desperate for rain.

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