When it comes to tourism, Spain has been able to position itself as a top destination for decades now. Her extensive coastline and cities like Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia are pearls in her crown, visited by millions each year.
This is also where her population increasingly concentrates itself, while most of her countryside is slowly dying out. These areas are known as ‘Empty Spain’, entire regions where the population is literally dying out and agricultural land is being abandoned.
This isn’t a new problem, but it has been extremely difficult to do something about it. Apparently it’s not easy to convince younger generations living in modern cities to uproot their existence and move back to the countryside. Low populations generally mean minimal public services when it comes to schooling, transport and healthcare. And restarting a farming operation on abandoned land, requiring loans and subsidies, isn’t normally economically viable either.
So the remaining inhabitants just grow older as their numbers dwindle, but in the past years there is some notable change going on. The number of properties sold in rural areas is up significantly. Of course external factors like COVID, or current geopolitics, play an important role in this. Many city dwellers are rethinking the need to all live so tightly packed together. Working from home has also altered what we look for in our residence. With the improvement of internet connectivity in most of Spain, the countryside has become much more desirable.
A couple months ago, the political party Podemos in Murcia proposed to legalize cultivation of cannabis to further incentivize people to move to rural areas of the province. The party hopes this will also lead to further legislation on national level, where the potential of a new legal cannabis industry is being considered more seriously.
Growing outdoor cannabis in Spain is relatively easy; plenty of sun to start with and loads of space to grow. Whether we want to admit it or not, Spain is already Europe´s greenhouse. The question is, who is going to control it. If politics turns a blind eye, others reap the benefits in the old cat-and-mouse game that Spanish police certainly don’t seem to be winning at the moment.
In these times of international unrest, and disruptions in the world’s supply chain, it makes perfect sense to reevaluate how to make the most of your national resources. Traditional high intensity farming has had destructive consequences in terms of soil depletion, land erosion, and contamination. Perhaps new sustainable low impact farming methods, and fantastic new crops like cannabis, can be the start of a real transformation of this amazingly beautiful country.
Did you know cannabis is a great crop to regenerate depleted soil, and even to clean up contaminated soil? Especially in places with nuclear contamination, hemp plants are now used increasingly to clean up the area. Places like Chernobile, Fukushima and even Palomares in Almería.