Rural Development Secretary Acosta González, right, and affected corn. Rural Development Secretary Acosta González, right, and affected corn.

Drought in Guerrero threatens corn crops

Tierra Caliente, the north and Zihuatanejo suffer from lack of rain

Federal authorities have been asked to declare a state of emergency in the crime-ridden Tierra Caliente region of Guerrero, but it’s not because of violence and aggression by organized crime.

A severe drought threatens the harvest of thousands of hectares of corn and beans which in turn has led to an increase in crime driven by hunger.

Local officials told Guerrero’s Rural Development Secretary Rigoberto Acosta González at a meeting yesterday in Pungarabato that the situation was worrying. People are taking desperate, illegal measures — stealing livestock, for example — because they are hungry.

In Nuevo Guerrero, farmers are seeing their corn crops being wiped out completely, while in Cutzamala 75% of the crop has been lost.

“We are desperate,” said one official from Ajuchitlán del Progreso. “We planted twice and got nothing.” The rains simply didn’t come when expected.

It’s not only Tierra Caliente that is suffering from lack of rain.

A similar story is unfolding in the northern region of the state and in Zihuatanejo. The former is considered the principal supplier of corn in Guerrero, but half the crop has been affected by the drought.

“I don’t want to sound like an alarmist,” said a community leader, “but if things don’t change quickly . . . there will be a scarcity of corn, the basic, indispensable grain needed to feed our people.”

In Zihuatanejo a cattle farmer said the situation is “alarming” because if it doesn’t rain soon the loss will amount to 1,700 tonnes of corn produced in the municipality, which could mean a “catastrophe” for the region.

Pedro Quiroz Basurto said the rains would have to come before August 20 if the crop is to survive.

Back in Tierra Caliente, a community leader said that while organized crime hadn’t buried the region, if it didn’t rain within five days the drought would do the job instead. That was five days ago and no rain has fallen yet.

Source: Milenio (sp), Bajo Palabra (sp)

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