ALMERIA – The environmental crisis in southern Spain is hitting hard: even drinking water is becoming scarce. A 40-year free-for-all on the “Garden of Europe”, a thriving agricultural industry, has led Almeria to the brink of catastrophe. 

Almería’s agriculture has helped propel Spain to the biggest producer and exporter of fruit and vegetables in the EU – and fourth globally. Germany, France, and the United Kingdom are its biggest importers.

Plastic greenhouses dominate the coastline and entire towns. Over 30,000 farming companies generate up to 3.5 million tonnes of produce worth over €1.5 billion. It accounts for more than half of Andalusia’s entire agricultural sector.

This prosperity has come at a cost. We visited Almería several times over the past year and interviewed dozens of scientists, farmers, activists, and politicians. What emerged is an uneasy picture - sometimes of outright denial – of an economic success story built on environmental exploitation. 

But at its core, the Miracle of Almeria is based on its rarest resource: water. And it is running out, the experts say.

Team members

Craig Shaw

Craig Shaw is a British journalist and editor of The Black sea Project.

Craig Shaw

José Bautista

José Bautista is an investigative journalist based in Madrid.

José Bautista

Ian Howorth

Ian Howorth is a British photographer, based in Brighton. 

ian howorth photographer

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