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Guatemala: FAO recommends protecting crops against the effects of the volcano

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) expressed its sorrow for the human losses caused by the eruption of the Fuego Volcano and showed solidarity with the families and communities that have been affected.

Diego Recalde, a representative of the FAO in Guatemala, said that the rescue of people was a priority, but that they shouldn't forgot that many of the people affected are small-scale farmers that, to a large extent, depend on the production of food and on their animals to live.

FAO is ready to support damage assessment and assist in the identification and implementation of actions to rebuild the livelihoods of farmers.

"The houses and crops in the areas directly affected by pyroclastics and lahars are completely covered by ash and by materials carried by pyroclastic clouds. However, according to reports, in the neighboring areas many crops and animals have only been affected by the strong fall of ash; in these cases, there are a series of preventive measures that can be taken to mitigate the effects of this phenomenon," Recalde said.
The Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Food (MAGA), Mario Mendez Montenegro, stated that the most affected productive sectors were: coffee (2,800 hectares), basic grains (2,358 hectares) and vegetables (3,187 hectares).

Risk management in agriculture
Although it is almost impossible to know exactly when a volcanic eruption will occur, it is essential that the agricultural sector forms part of early warning systems and integrated information management systems so that they can deploy early actions and a timely and effective response.

The FAO added that the volcanic ash seriously affected plants due to the minerals and other chemical components that the acid ash has, which is highly harmful to plant life. The ash can burn leaves and affect the plants' photosynthesis and transpiration processes.

Producers ought to water and remove the ash from the leaves and foliage of the plants in their orchards and crops.

Source: EFE

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