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Region suffering from drought, Belize hit the hardest

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Posted: Sunday, August 25, 2019. 2:11 pm CST.

By BBN Staff: Central America continues to operate under an Overall Orange Alert issued by the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System (GDACS) as the ongoing drought ravages the region.

GDACS data says that Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, and El Salvador have all been affected by the drought, noting that Belize is among the hardest hit. The data shows the impact on the other countries in the region as “Medium” but lists the impact on Belize as “High.”

In Mexico, 22 of its 32 states are affected by the drought and food shortages are expected in the coming months if the situation continues. Mexico’s banana industry, which used to export a 20-ton trailer of bananas to the United States per week, managed to send only one container last month as the drought has significantly affected the quality of bananas, making them unfit for export.

In El Salvador, which has been battling drought in years past, the threat of food shortages is even more pronounced. Researchers are suggesting that if radical changes are not made, the country could actually run out of all its water within 80 years. In Nicaragua, the increasingly unstable weather conditions have farmers caught between drought and floods, further damaging their agricultural sector.

The effects of the drought had brought pressure on governments in the region to formulate interventions for their agricultural sectors to mitigate losses and avoid future issues resulting from those losses.

In Belize, the Ministry of Agriculture is conducting various assessments within the agricultural sector, in an attempt to craft interventions that tailor to the needs of those affected. Corn and soybean farmers have been greatly affected by the drought, recording thousands of acres of crops, totaling over $2.3 million, with millions more in losses on the way if urgent action is not taken. Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Agriculture, Jose Alpuche, listed several actions being taken by the Government of Belize at this time, including approaching creditors for farmers in an effort to assist with getting them much-needed financing to invest in water irrigation systems.

Alpuche said that Belize will have to import soybeans to satisfy local demand because of the impact the drought has had on the industry. As the assessments come in the ministry expects it will be working more closely with affected farmers.

Since February 2019, regional weather and climate organizations such as the Caribbean Climate Outlook Forum (CariCOF) have been warning of the impending drought, with the National Meteorological Service of Belize (Met Office) issuing drought predictions in March. The Met Office expects that regular rainfall may return to Belize by late September; however, the losses to the agricultural sector, if no interventions are taken by then, would be catastrophic.

 

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