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How France is fighting to save its struggling wine industry

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How France is fighting to save its struggling wine industry
Photo: AFP
17:27 CEST+02:00
The French government recently announced an ambitious research programme as part of its plan to fight for the survival of its declining vineyards. Here's a look at the reason behind the project.
For any wine fans out there, it may come as a surprise that something so synonymous with France is battling to survive. 
 
French wine is loved around the world and France - one of the world's largest producers - makes around 8 million bottles a year.
 
But environmental factors such as climate change, as well as biological problems, such as viruses, fungi and bacteria, industry practices and economic constraints have all led to a serious decline in production at French vineyards, with experts saying the situation becoming increasingly dire over the past few decades. 
 
However, plans are afoot to save the pride and joy of the French agricultural industry.  
 
The "Plan National Dépérissement du vignoble" (National Plan for the Decline of Vineyards) is a concerted effort on behalf of the industry and the French government to help the ailing wine sector. 
 
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Photo: AFP
 
The project will see a total investment of €10.5 million over the course of three years (between 2017 and 2020). 
 
Launched by the CNIV, which groups together the various professions of the French wine industry, France's public agricultural authority FranceAgriMer and the Ministy of Agriculture, the plan has four main goals. 
 
One is "to give winemakers the key to limit the decline, taking into account their economic constraints", another is to "work with plant nurseries to find natural ways to reinvigorate vineyards".
 
The third is to improve preparation for crises and the final goal is to carry out a national and Europe-wide research programme to find ways of solving the problems in the wine industry. 
 
In short, the organisations behind the plan are hoping to find solutions on how to improve the vines themselves, the quality of the original plants, their longevity and protection against viruses. 
 
The seven projects recently announced by the French government are part of this nationwide research and include investigations into the effect of wood disease on a vine, research on the effect of vine decay on grape production and the effect of fungus growth on vines, among others. 
 
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Did you know? What exactly goes into a bottle of French wine (apart from grapes)Photo: AFP
 
A total of €1.65 million has been granted for the projects which will be launched in the second half of 2019 and take place over three and a half years.
 
But what does the future hold for an industry looks as if it is set to be increasingly affected by climate change and other factors?
 
"It's not just a problem of climate change but also of bacteria diseases affecting the wood of the vines and insects destroying the plants," Jérôme Agostini, director of the CNIV, previously told The Local.
 
"This is a long term project but vines last 35 years so it's worth investing in them," he said. 
 
"People whose work depends on nature are used to adapting to it almost on an annual basis. I think the current problems are something that can be overcome."

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