The general advisor of Cochabamba's Agricultural Chamber (CAC), Rolando Morales, said that banana producers from the five municipalities of the Tropic of Cochabamba had reported considerable drops in their production due to the drought that is devastating the region. “A hectare produces approximately 1,000 boxes of bananas. Now, production has dropped by 50% due to the drought. The temperatures in the tropics range between 44 and 45 degrees,” he stated.
This year is not the first that the lack of rainfall has affected the banana sector in this region of Bolivia. In 2019 there were no great losses due to drought, but the sector was affected by floods. In 2018, however, more than 7,000 hectares of bananas were affected by the drought and losses exceeded 21 million dollars, Morales stated.
According to data from the National Institute of Statistics (INE), processed by the Bolivian Institute of Foreign Trade (IBCE), between January and July of this year, banana exports fell by 11% in volume and 1% in value. Producers estimate they've lost more than 60 million dollars due to the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.
Despite the drought, the sector continues to export 90 to 100 trucks of bananas a week to the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Government aid against the drought
The Government of Cochabamba plans to combat the effects of the drought in the department by implementing water tanks in vulnerable municipalities.
The director of the Risk Management Unit, Heber Romero, said they were working on the implementation of reinforced concrete water storage tanks with a capacity of 22,000 liters. According to Romero, they have already completed the construction of 40 tanks and are working on the second batch of 35 tanks in the areas that are most vulnerable to drought: the southern cone, the Andean zone, and some municipalities in the valleys.
In addition, they will provide plastic water storage tanks of 80 and 10,000 liters capacity to those areas of difficult access that don't have land suitable for civil works, he added.