Between February and March more water has fallen than usual on the coast. Farmers say that it is the third period, in 70 years, with more rainfall – in that period – and that means a serious deterioration of the main crops of the country.
Diario EXPRESO consulted specialists, technicians and producers of the main coastal crops to know to what extent this situation affects agriculture, and all agree: there is a significant deterioration in the crops of rice, corn, cocoa, bananas, fruits and vegetables. Just the goods that sustain the economy of the rural sector of the region.
“Curcubitáceas and vegetables, with the amount of water that has fallen in the peninsula of Santa Elena, are not profitable,” says engineer Jaime Proaño, former consultant of what was Cedegé (Commission for the Development of the Basin of the Río Guayas), professor and specialist in tropical fruits. “There is a mushroom cocktail,” he tells this newspaper.
The proliferation of fungi causes greater applications of fungicides, protectants and systemic, which influences the production costs and quality of watermelons, melons, tomatoes, peppers and others, which can even cause damage to health of consumers, since pesticide residues remain in the fruits.
In summary, expensive products, high prices. Rice, for example, is already sold at 50 cents per pound, compared to 30 or 35 cents a day earlier in the Guayaquil markets. Productivity has dropped and a part has also left for Colombia. In Ecuador, 350 thousand hectares of the grass are cultivated per year. Guayas is the one that harvests the most.
The cacao -575,000 hectares cultivated according to the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses- also faces water, its worst enemy. So far there is no such significant impact, says consultant Franklin Borbor, except areas of the province of Los Rios where there is stagnation, as a part of Ricaurte. By the action of the sun the water heats up and kills the roots. Also proliferate, as highlighted, the two most important diseases of the crop, the monilla and the witch’s broom.
Sergio Cedeño, cocoa and banana, however, describes as “terrible” the affectation of winter for cocoa and adds another problem, the proliferation of phytophthora or black ears. “This is the third most damaging disease of this crop.”
Cocoa is the second most important crop for the coastal agroindustry after banana, because of the foreign exchange it generates, but in extension it is the most important. This crop has no drainage infrastructure, as do the banana plantations, since it is in the hands of small farmers.
Moisés Grijalva, corn technician of the company Ecuaquímica, emphasizes the damages already caused to the cornfields that were sown at the wrong time. “Those who planted late have a loss of around 40%. Those who put the seed in time on earth have no problems. ” (I)