Farmers in southern France pray for the rains in procession



The procession in Perpignan in southern France had little to do with folklore or the cultivation of religious customs, but the move caused a stir. For the first time in 150 years, farmers and Catholic clergy in the town near the Spanish border set out together to ask the Catalan region’s patron saint of farmers for rain.

It is urgent, because there has been very little rain in the already dry region for months. The situation is similar in large parts of France, groundwater reserves are depleted and the government is concerned. Is there a risk of a second summer of drought after 2022?

Destructive rain balance

The balance of precipitation for the winter months, at least, is devastating: since weather records began in 1959, there has never been such a long period of rain in France in winter, according to the Météo France weather service. This led to a noticeable drying out of the soil at that time of the year, which had already been weakened by drought in the summer of 2022. Meanwhile, the rains in March improved the situation in part of France. Météo France said that in the south of the country it is still drier than normal.

According to meteorologists, the immediate trigger for the latest drought was an area of ​​high pressure that kept precipitation off France for weeks. However, as a study presented in February by France’s National Research Organization (CNRS) showed, warming associated with climate change in Europe is causing a wider range and extent of high-pressure regions — with increasing aridity as a result. .

Some departments, especially in the south of France, have already ordered restrictions. Watering gardens, sports fields, filling swimming pools and washing cars are banned – an unprecedented restriction for this time of year. President Emmanuel Macron has called for water conservation at the national level. “We have a dry winter, and at the crucial moment there is little rain that allows us to replenish our groundwater reserves,” Macron said. “So we know that, like last summer, we’re going to have shortage issues.” Rather than regulating scarce water in the short term, it’s important to plan early.

rain parade

The call for help to the church in Perpignan, but with a procession to pray for rain, comes from winemaker Georges Puig. He recently complained: “It’s raining everywhere in France, but not here.” According to the First Vicar of St. Jean-Baptiste Cathedral, Father Christophe Lefebvre, he led the procession from the cathedral through the historic city gate to the Tate River. They carried the relics of St. Galderic, the patron saint of farmers. With the relics, the worshipers stood in the almost dry river bed. About 100 people participated in the parade. The procession revives a medieval Visigothic tradition.

Increasingly dry periods are causing problems for winegrowers in the Mediterranean region. In 2021, the French Institute of Viticulture had already dedicated a study to guide viticulture in view of climate change. One recommendation is for wine growers to adjust their production and water use based on better regional climate data. Planting more climate-resistant vines and taking steps to make viticulture as climate-neutral as possible is also advised. In the long term, the French wine sector will have to make the necessary adjustments for climate change, according to the Ministry of Agriculture in Paris. The government wants to help develop a strategy.

note: This report is part of an automated service provided by the German Press Agency (dpa), which operates under strict journalistic rules. It is not edited or vetted by AZ Online Editors. Questions and hints please


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