Courgette crisis: Spanish farmers hope the worst is over

Manuel Martínez points to the distant, snow-dusted peaks that rise above the pines and palms and gives voice to a thought to chill the hearts and panic the stomachs of vegetable lovers.

“We get snow like this maybe every 15 years. But if there’d been frost, that would have been it. No one in Europe would have anything green to put in their mouths.”

Apocalyptic as they may sound, the farmer’s words aren’t all that far-fetched.

Murcia, in south-eastern Spain, is one of Europe’s biggest vegetable-producing regions – a land of lettuces, courgettes, cabbages, peppers, tomatoes and artichokes.

After suffering three years of drought, moisture has recently returned in vengeful abundance: heavy rains in December dumped more rain on Murcia in six weeks than it had seen in the previous 156; floods wiped out half the Christmas lettuce crop and then, a few weeks later, came the heaviest snows in more than 30 years.

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