Friday, March 24, 2023

Drought impacts banana growers and ranchers on the northwest line

Drought has a negative impact at the socioeconomic and hydrological level. Currently, ranchers and banana growers of the so-called “Northeast Line” of the country (Valverde, Montecristi, Dajabón, Santiago Rodríguez, Puerto Plata and others) suffer these effects, which are already reporting losses that, if prolonged, could be more damaging at the end of this year.

The Yaque del Norte, Mao, Ámina and Guayubín rivers, like many of their tributaries, are practically dry, says Beato Hernández, in charge of Production of the Organic Bananas Guild of the Northwest Line (Banelino). In effect, this causes their expenses to increase to maintain the plantation due to scarcity.

“We constantly have to rent submersible pumps. In case of having one, then the money goes away in fuels”, says Hernández. All this effort is to maintain the requirements of the size, color, health, weight and quality of the bananas, since otherwise they would not qualify to be exported.

Rice growers, banana growers, tobacco growers and ranchers are supplied from this rainfall system, but in the case of the sector that it represents there are “stressed” farms, that is to say, that the bunches have deteriorated, for which reason they foresee a production below the estimate, because they will have to put more bananas to complete the amount of kilo in each box. “This is less commission for the farms,” ​​says the representative of Banelino, an association that integrates 238 producers, from Santiago to Montecristi and ships about 30,000 boxes weekly.

The president of the Association of Ranchers of the Northwest Line in Dajabón, Aníbal Cruz, calculates between 130 and 140 the number of cattle that have died during this stationary drought, which has “since November of last year” without rain in that area. “Each head has a price close to RD $600,000,” he points out. If so, the losses would be around RD$85 million.

Despite the figures, Cruz maintains that the numbers are not “alarming”, since compared to other periods of drought, “we have lost up to 1,500 cattle here. However, the ideal and our objective is that not one dies, ”he said. At the same time, he pointed out that the bales that the authorities announced and that they have provided in other provinces to counter the crisis have not arrived in that province.

For the director and spokesman of the Dominican Rice Union (UAD), Heraldo Suero Díaz, the drought is not a concern and he maintains that the first rice harvest is guaranteed in the country, of which more than 4.5 million bushels are expected by the end of the year. March and early April this year.

“Since this crop has a long cycle and is also in a ripening and cutting phase, it does not require or demand a lot of water at this stage. For that reason we are not in a critical situation. It would be worrisome if we were in the sowing cycle, there yes, ”he said.

He added that the current lack of rain is in some areas and not at the national level. Also, that in a hypothetical case of a drop in production, the country has a sufficient safety inventory to meet demand. “The Dominican Republic begins its harvest with more than 3.5 million quintals of rice, that could sustain it for at least three months,” said Suero.

rainy precipitation

From December 2022 to February 2023, of 30 stationary zones that are monitored in the country, only San José de Ocoa registers a rainfall behavior above (62.5%) its normality, which is 79.3 millimeters (mm) of rainfall, since it reported 128.9 mm, according to Manuel González Tejera, agricultural specialist and adviser to the Ministry of Agriculture.

Four stations (San José de los Llanos, Salcedo, Cabrera and Moca) are considered acceptable. Meanwhile, the remaining 25 are below normal, therefore, they are experiencing a severe drought, says González.

In the demarcations of the Northwest Line, it is found that in Montecristi, the rains have decreased by about 80%, registering 37.8 mm, since their normality is 185 mm between December 2022 and February 2023. Meanwhile, Santiago Rodríguez has a 63.7% less rain, since it reflects 39.3 mm and its normal rainfall is 108.4 mm.

In Gaspar Hernández, Espaillat province, the rains have decreased by 40.4%, registering 319.2 mm, since its normal rains are 535.2 mm. Meanwhile, in Santa Cruz de Mao (Valverde province) the water drought is 78.7% after accumulating only 20 mm and its normal rainfall is 94.1 mm. In Santiago, a 22.6% decrease in rainfall is reported, because it accumulates 128.8 mm and its normal condition is 166.4 mm.


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