Lifestyle Environment 06 Nov 2019 Climate change shows ...

Climate change shows significant changes in Argentina’s wine belt

AFP
Published Nov 6, 2019, 10:37 am IST
Updated Nov 6, 2019, 10:38 am IST
Goat farmers at climate change frontline in Argentina's wine belt.
Climate change has altered the entire cycle of life in the region. (Photo: AFP)
 Climate change has altered the entire cycle of life in the region. (Photo: AFP)

Argentina: In a vast valley at the foot of the Andes, Antonio Sazo counts his goats, having ushered them down mountain slopes in the south of the Argentine province of Mendoza, where climate change forces them higher every year in order to graze.

From a third generation of goat breeders, 68-year-old Sazo has seen his herd decimated by drought in recent years. But he isn't giving up the ghost just yet. "I'll stay here with my little goats, I'll keep fighting."

 

Sazo and other goat breeders scattered along the Andes foothills here are on the frontline of climate change, devoid of the safety net of irrigation canals utilized by neighbouring farms or by Mendoza's vineyards, where Argentina's highly prized Malbec wines are produced.

"The situation has changed a lot here. It's not what it was two years ago, when the winter was good, with more snowfall," Sazo told AFP inside his wood and adobe traditional house. With his wife and three of his children, he ekes out a living from a herd of 300 goats in Arro Ponigue, 350 kilometers (220 miles) south of Argentina's lush wine capital Mendoza.

Here, 1,300 kilometers west of Buenoa Aires, farmers have seen the affects of lighter winter snowfall in the austral spring, when meltwater was scarce on the slopes, lakes dried up and grassy pastures thinned out.

"Climate change has altered the entire cycle of life in the region," said Ivan Rosales, an agricultural engineer at the National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA) in San Rafael, Mendoza. Waterflow on the mountain rivers will be 11 percent lower in 2019-20 than the previous year, and 54 percent lower than the province's historical average, according to a flow forecast by the Mendoza regional government.

"Last year, we said it was not an emergency. It was part of a pattern. The same scenarios are being repeated year after year for the last 10 or 11 years," said Sergio Marinelli, a Mendoza state irrigation official, presenting a report in October.

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