Dry conditions in Puebla. Dry conditions in Puebla.

Farmers plead for federal government support as drought takes its toll

Farmers want reinstatement of agricultural disaster insurance among other measures

Farmers are calling on the government to help relieve the damage of a severe nationwide drought.

The National Water Commission has registered exceptional drought conditions in municipalities in Chihuahua, Sonora and Tamaulipas and extreme drought in municipalities in 15 states. As of mid-April, 70% of the country had been affected by the prolonged dry season.

The farmers’ demands include the reinstatement of agricultural disaster insurance, a policy of the previous administration, subsidies to reduce the cost of animal feed and seeds, the modernization of irrigation technologies and other economic support.

Sinaloa farmer José Enrique Rodarte, who represents farmers in Culiacán and has worked in agriculture for 50 years, says the problem began in 2020. “The dams captured very little water. We estimated that 20 to 30% more water was used to irrigate completely dry land … There are crops that still lack 30 to 45 more days of irrigation, which means that they can’t be maintained. Most likely, if 6 million tonnes were produced, now there would only be five in total. The problem is serious and very worrying,” he said.

“We need agricultural insurance to be reinstated for these kinds of losses and the implementation of irrigation technologies that make water use more efficient …. We know that they can’t control the climate, but they can combat the lack of water,” he added.

Martín Ignacio Zuña produces corn and sorghum in southern Sinaloa. “We had a total loss, there’s no income to live on, we don’t have enough for self-consumption, there’s nothing for seeds, let alone to sell. The lack of water has been present for four years, but 2020 was the worst,” he said.

“We are not feeling sorry for ourselves and we have the right that the government not leave us at the mercy of God …. Thanks to what we farmers produce, they can eat at home, they don’t lack milk, meat, tortilla or beans. Thanks to the love we give to our work, we put food on their plates,” he added.

In Aguascalientes, rancher Marco Puga saw losses of 50% on previous years.

“We depend on the water we have to irrigate; if I only have water for five of my 10 hectares, we are talking about a 50% loss in production … In the case of livestock, I would have been paid 28 pesos per kilo for my cows when they were well fed, but now that they’re skinny just 20 pesos per kilo, a decline of almost 30% on the purchase price,” he said.

The states most affected by the lack of rain are Coahuila, Durango, Guanajuato, Chihuahua, Guerrero, Jalisco, state of México, Michoacán, Nuevo León, Quintana Roo, San Luis Potosí, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tamaulipas y Zacatecas.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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