Colombia’s Ministry of Agriculture launched on Friday a plan to tackle the effects of the weather phenomenon El Niño.
The Ministry of Agriculture announced on Friday a plan to address and mitigate the effects of a possible El Niño occurrence in Colombia’s agricultural sector.
The period of sever drought is expected hit Colombia some time between December and March of next year. In terms of intensity however, the storm should be moderate to weak. In fact, the probability of El Niño dropped from 80 to 50 percent, according to IDEAM forecasts.
Regardless of strength, the Ministry of Agriculture is taking precautionary action.
“Let us not forget that a minor El Niño is an extreme summer which maintains the need to voice, not alarm, but alert all farmers,” said Agriculture Minister Juan Camilo Restrepo Salazar.
The mitigation plan provides information about the storm’s effects, particularly how unusual amounts of humidity or rainfall affect crop production. Reduction in agricultural productivity is expected to be most noticeable in regions that don’t normally experience much rain.
According to IDEAM historical data, the fique plant experiences the greatest reduction during the rain storm at an average annual decrease of 13%. Yuca and palm oil fall 8% and barley 7%, followed by rice, potatoes, corn, cotton, sugarcane, banana, cacao and beans. Milk production could also be reduced by 4.9%.
The mitigation plan advises farmers to manage their water usage efficiently by building covered reservoirs and implementing drip irrigation systems.
Also in the plan is a reference to Decree No. 2143 of September 1997 which outlaws burning. Due to the polarized weather patterns, the risk of forest fires is magnified.
The Ministry advises farmers to periodically check the websites of each agricultural sector union as they have developed specific details covering every advisory practice.
The weather phenomenon usually occurs every five years and is caused by unusually high sea temperatures in the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean coupled with high air surface pressure in the tropical western Pacific.