Colombia’s agricultural sector requires $25B to prepare for future weather phenomena: minister

(Photo: Gobierno Soledad Atlantico)

Colombia’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development announced on Wednesday that the rural sector needs around $25 billion for infrastructure projects like irrigation systems, to help the countryside deal with weather events like El Niño and La Niña.

The $25 billion needed over the next few years could be acquired through private-public partnerships, private funds, and multilateral sources, according to Minister of Agriculture Ruben Dario Lizarralde.

“To litter the sector with irrigation, drainage, and canalization projects, $25 billion of investment are needed in the coming years,” said Minister Lizarralde in a statement.

MORE: Colombia to expect floods, heat-waves from El Niño in the coming year: meteorologists

The minister acknowledged that the irrigation projects would help regions like the Atlantic coast deal with the droughts north Colombia is currently experiencing. The drought has affected Colombia’s cattle producing region.

The droughts are considered to be part of the dry season in the northern coastal region of Colombia, but they are also being aggravated by the arrival of El Niño, which is expected to being in July, August, or September, according the the Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology, and Environmental Studies (IDEAM).

IDEAM, responsible for analyzing Colombia’s weather patterns, stated that there is a 70% chance El Niño will bring an increased warm spell to the country in the latter half of 2014 until March 2015.

MORE: Colombia will experience El Niño well into 2015: govt agency

“We should be prepared to deal with an El Niño phenomenon,” said one of IDEAM’s directors, Maria Teresa Martinez.

Despite the call for $25 billion dollars for Colombia’s rural sector, the 2015 budget proposed by President Juan Manuel Santos holds the agriculture budget stagnant at $1.7 billion for 2015.

MORE: Santos outlines Colombia’s 2015 budget, emphasizes social spending 


The Ministry of Agriculture said it would set up 25 sites in the cattle regions of the country where cattle ranchers could buy animal feed for well below the market price.

Colombia’s government will provide over $1.8 million to subsidize feed for animals, according to a press release. The subsidized feed is to replace the stunted growth of pasture due to drought that cattle ranchers depend on.

MORE: 20K animals dead in east Colombia drought

Minister Lizarralde also reminded the public that Colombia’s government, via the Ministry of Agriculture, is covering 80% of the cost of the agreement reached with IDEAM and the Federation of Rice Producers (FEDEARROZ) to provide farm insurance.

El Niño forest fires

Colombia’s third largest city, Cali, is on alert after a wave of forest fires to the east of the city, according to El Espectador newspaper.

The entire state of Valle del Cauca, where Cali is located, has suffered from low levels of rainfall. The city’s fire departments have registered 358 forest fires throughout the year so far.

It is suspected that the imminent arrival of El Niño has decreased rainfall and caused more forest fires that have affected over 100 acres, according to El Espectador.


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