Paris - France has always been proud of its countryside. It has the largest rural population and agricultural industry within the EU. But faced with the onset of global warming, farmers are facing a new battle -- for water.
With temperatures rising, farmers are stuck with the age-old problem of keeping their crops watered in summer. But the solution appears to be coming at the expense of natural landscapes and biodiversity: it is an existential crisis for the agriculture sector that is not singular to the French.
Episode 5 heads west to the Marais Poitevin, the second largest wetland in France nicknamed “Green Venice”, 200 kilometres north of Bordeaux, where farmers and environmentalists are at loggerheads over a plan to build 16 large water reserves.
The farmers in the marshland region largely view the project positively as the reserves will provide water during the dry months of summer but environmentalists, and even certain other smallhold farmers, believe it will weaken the wetland and reduce the availability of water.
The demonstrations are currently local but with plans to export the reserve idea to other parts of the country, these are likely to be just the first salvos in a nationwide battle.
We hear from farmers from both sides of the hedge as well as environmentalists and ecology researchers who also look ahead to a France that will need greater self-sufficiency following the Ukraine War.