Approximately 106 000 farm animals have perished so far due to drought in Chile, reports confirmed on October 5, 2019. This year's dry spell is the country's worst in six decades, leaving crops destroyed and dead animals in the field.
According to the agriculture ministry, mostly goats, cattle, and sheep died due to a lack of water and fodder.
"Going out and seeing the animals dead on the ground is so horrible," Erick Hurtado stated as he gazed across the paddocks of his family's farm in Petorca, near Valparaiso. Hurtado's farm has lost half of its 60 head of cattle.
In Colina, north of the capital Santiago, the drought has been disastrous for small farmers. Sandra Aguilar said out of about a hundred head of cattle her family-owned, only half survived.
Several farms in the province of Chacabuco were hit hard by the dry weather. "The situation is complicated. We have to be realistic, climate change is here to stay," Governor Javier Maldonado said.
In La Ligua village near Valparaiso, 73-year-old Dominga Mondaca's garden used to be full of fruits and trees. The area is now nothing but cracked earth.
"We have had many years with little water. But the last year, it didn't rain at all," she said.
Furthermore, Mondaca said she had to give up raising chickens for her to save what little amount of water she receives for her family's consumption. She uses whatever is left of the water to sprinkle on herbs in her mini kitchen garden.
About 37 000 family farms need aid in central Chile according to the agriculture ministry. Petorca locals pointed out that the long-term issue is the mismanagement of water sources.
Some rivers have dried up in the area, but avocado and citrus plantations are thriving. "There is an excess of monoculture plantations that consume all the water," said Diego Soto of the Movement for the Defense of Access to Water, Land, and Environmental Protection (MODATIMA).
Soto said avocados need a lot of water to grow. However, avocado producers said the real problem is the lack of water storage both above and below the ground.
A crisis group of government agencies has been organized to address the water crisis, which according to President Sebastian Pinera had become more intense.
Previously, the president announced the government's plan to improve water distribution with a budget of $5 billion.
Featured image credit: @dilucidus/Unsplash
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