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Fruit growers arrested for using illegal wells in drought-hit Spain

Authorities conducted a four year investigation in the Axarquia area of Andalusia, which has been suffering from drought since 2021. They discovered more than 250 illegal wells, boreholes and ponds.

Spain is Europe’s leading producer of tropical fruit, which requires large quantities of water. Avocado production is expected drop by 25% this year due to high temperatures and lack water.

The police said they were investigating the suspects on suspicion of fraudulently using water to irrigate subtropical plants and misappropriating it.

The arrests did not specify whether they were commercial or subsistence farmers.


The lack of rain in Spain, particularly around the Donana wetlands in Andalusia and the climate change as well as the illegal irrigation on nearby strawberries farms has brought water management to the forefront.

According to the Spanish weather service AEMET April was the driest and warmest month since records began. Around 25% of the reservoirs in Catalonia and Andalusia, as well as other areas hardest hit by drought, are now at normal water levels.

Farmers in Catalonia, northeastern Spain, staged a protest Tuesday by slowing down their tractors in various cities. They demanded that the government help them deal with the effects caused by the drought.


The agricultural union Unio de Pagesos urged the authorities for subsidies, tax incentives and labor incentives, as well as urgent network improvements, to ensure that farmers have a minimum supply of water.

Josep Andreu (35), a Catalan farmer, stated that due to the water shortage, only 2% of his crops would be fit for sale this year.

He claimed that the authorities were “not taking any measures” to help this industry cope with drought during a protest in Lleida, (about 150km from Barcelona).

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