Photo: Drought in Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s National Agriculture and Agroindustry Chamber, or CNAA, expressed concern over the lack of rainfall in the Pacific province of Guanacaste, a prolonged dry spell attributed to the El Niño weather phenomenon that is causing losses in the agriculture, ranching and aquaculture sectors.
“There is major concern because we feel this hasn’t been given the importance that the situation requires. We want to sound the alarm to raise awareness about the region’s lack of rainfall,” CNAA President Juan Rafael Lizano told Efe.
Figures from the nation’s weather service indicate there was 65 percent less rainfall in June compared to the historical average for Guanacaste, one of the country’s main farming and ranching regions.
The drought has taken a toll on crops such as rice and sugarcane, as well as pastureland and fish farming.
A total of 2,400 hectares (5,925 acres) of rice fields have not been cultivated and 1,400 more hectares are at risk of being lost, Lizano said.
Aquaculture producers, meanwhile, have lost 2,000 tons of fish and ranchers are having difficulty feeding their animals due to the lack of precipitation.
Producers are investing more resources in sustaining their crops and livestock and that is causing production costs to rise and hurting their competitiveness, the chamber said.
“There need to be assessments and negotiations with the government to see what we can do above all with the small producers. These are things that need to be prevented. One option is to create water supplies (wells) so the scant amount of rain doesn’t affect” farmers,” Lizano said.
The CNAA also called on the Agriculture and Livestock Ministry to declare a state of emergency and allocate the resources needed to ensure producers have access to water for their crops, cattle and aquaculture ponds and to avoid putting the country’s food security at risk.