Reportage and Documentary 2020
Agroclimatic Grand Tour
How the landscape of Italian agriculture is changing due to climate change
Johann Wolfgang Goethe disembarked in Palermo in April 1787 and for him Sicily was “the land where lemons blossom”. Almost two and half centuries have passed since then and Salvatore, in Sicily, explains: “I got rid of my lemon trees a few years ago: they were infected with a fungus that attacks the lymphatic cycle. There aren't many possible treatments, so now I grow avocados.” An increasing number of farmers on the Italian island are converting to tropical fruit farming, like avocados, mangos and papayas, and some are even experimenting with coffee and bananas. Why? It's down to climate change, which is completely redrawing Italy's rural landscape. The average temperature is rising, the wind is causing more damage, whilst desertification and violent floods are having an ever more disastrous impact on farmland. Of course, irrigation systems are becoming increasingly more efficient and thanks to supercomputers meteorological forecasts are as accurate as ever. But the trend is inexorable, and it's not just affecting exotic fruit cultivated in the south: grapevines are perfectly at home in high mountain landscapes, olive trees and durum wheat are found ever further north, anti-hail nets are multiplying and – with this drier weather – legumes are becoming increasingly more prevalent. The in-vogue protein, but it's also very low water-consuming.