Heavy rains in Chile’s south-central agricultural region last week may have caused at least $1 billion in losses, according to estimates from authorities and industry.
Extreme weather conditions prompted the government to declare a state of disaster last week as dangerous rains lashed isolated communities and left at least three people dead.
President Gabriel Boric’s government last week issued an agricultural emergency for 100 municipalities, approving about $8.3 million to replace irrigation infrastructure, canal systems and other relief measures for farmers, who asked for more help.
“We’re talking about more than $1 billion in damage,” National Agricultural Society (SNA) president Antonio Walker said at a news conference after meeting with Chilean Agriculture Minister Esteban Valenzuela.
“There is damage to small, medium and large farmers, producers who supply the local market and also many orchards that are dedicated to export,” he added.
In addition to damage to irrigation systems and riverside areas, there has also been loss of orchards, vegetables and animal fodder, Valenzuela told reporters.
In addition to being a major exporter of copper, the South American nation is also a strong agricultural and forestry exporter with shipments of fresh fruit and nuts, pulp, wine and wood.
Walker said urgent action needed to be taken before the southern spring arrives in September, when some crops are irrigated.
Farmers also now fear that the El Niño weather phenomenon, which has brought heavy rains to central Chile after years of water shortages, could cause further instability in the coming spring months.
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