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French farmers seek a pistachio bonanza

Pistachios are a staple of the vaunted French aperitif, but the nuts come from thousands of miles away -- a situation a handful of farmers in the southern Provence region hope to change.

Although wild uncultivated pistachios can be found across the hills hugging the Mediterranean Sea in southern France, remnants of trees brought over from Syria by the Romans, it is vineyards and fruit orchards that dominate the rugged landscape.

But now, weather conditions that can increasingly include long dry spells could herald the return of drought-resistant pistachio trees in the coming years.

"It's a gamble but we're not crazy, we've got both feet on the ground," said Jean-Louis Joseph, co-founder of an association which aims to promote the homegrown nuts.

This year, he planted 600 pistachio trees amid the grape vines, olive trees and truffle oaks on his plots in the Luberon region, their young trunks protected from deer by electric fencing.

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