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87% of fruit growers in Maule, Chile, believe that situation caused by drought is delicate and unsustainable

The results of Fedefruta's survey, Impact of Drought on Chilean Fruit Growing, which details the perception that producers at the national level and by region have on this situation, can be read in this document.

According to the survey "Impact of the Drought on the Chilean Fruit Growing" developed by the Federation of Fruit Producers from Chile (Fedefruta), 86.9% of the fruit growers in the region of Maule consider that the drought situation in the region is delicate or unsustainable.
70.5% of the respondents considered the current scenario was delicate, and 16.4% said the situation was unsustainable, while 13.1% said it was sustainable.

According to the study, 37.7% of these farmers believe that drought has hindered their crops in the last four years; while 29.5% maintain that it has been an obstacle to obtain better results during the last year.

Similarly, 26.2% considered the drought had been a problem for the last 5 to 10 harvest years. Only 6.6% of those consulted in Maule said that the effects of water scarcity had transcended for more than the last decade.

The impact of the drought on the generation of employment in the harvest was also probed, and according to estimates, at least 22% of the job offers will be affected by it. 54.1% of the fruit growers in Maule said the new technologies to overcome the water irrigation crisis were relevant, while 32.8% considered that they were only partially relevant, and 4.9% said they thought using them to circumvent the aftermath of the drought would have negative effects. 8.2% of the respondents do not have access to these tools.

In the Maule region, 63.9% of the respondents believe that private investment should be redirected in concessioned reservoirs, which they consider the most important issue.

Restricted irrigation
“There is no irrigation security. We are going to have to work with a lot of restrictions within our irrigation calendar, having to restrict up to 55% of our rights in February, ”said Carlos Diez, the president of the Maule River Surveillance Board (JVRM) due to the complex situation they will in the irrigation season. The director said that the alarms went off during last October when the river bed should have achieved a volume of nearly 180 m³ but was only bordering 146 m³.

Despite having experienced a variation of nearly 20% in this channel, he said, the board of the JVRM decided to maintain the plans they had during the month of October in order to follow the guidelines of the savings agreement established with Colbún and Pehuenche.

“The river today is at 204 m³/s. That means we have a surplus of water in the system because in November we need 190 m³ to irrigate. In addition, we also have a very good saving to meet the 130 million that we had planned,” he said.

According to Diez, the JVRM increased its plans for November from 75% to 85% in order to handle such surpluses. “According to forecasts, the river should start to dry up during the first weeks of December. If that's true, we'll begin to supplement that deficit with the water that we have accumulated,” he said.

Diez also stated that the irrigation rights in this river would be restricted in January by 65%; in February by 55%; in March by 40%, and in April by up to 35%. "We could say that we'll be having many restrictions throughout this irrigation season, but we might achieve having the same conditions that we forecast from the very beginning," he concluded.

Source: Diario El Centro de Talca / 

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