Drought Conditions Cause Strong Concerns in Central & Northern Mexico Again This Year

SourceMex Economic News & Analysis on Mexico, February 23, 2000 | Go to article overview

Drought Conditions Cause Strong Concerns in Central & Northern Mexico Again This Year


The Mexican government, anticipating a repeat of last year's severe drought, plans to distribute 1 billion pesos (US$106.3 million) to help agricultural producers and ranchers take preventative steps to reduce losses.

The funds were approved under the 2000 budget for the Secretaria de Agricultura, Ganaderia y Desarrollo Rural (SAGAR) and are not part of the disaster-relief budget that was approved for 2000.

Agriculture Secretary Romarico Arroyo Marroquin, who accompanied President Ernesto Zedillo during a tour of endangered agricultural regions in the northwestern state of Sonora in mid-February, said the government decided to proceed with the program because weather forecasters expect much- below-normal precipitation in a significant part of northern Mexico for at least the first quarter of the year.

Producers in eleven states receive special funding The funds will be directed to eleven states, where 3 million hectares of cropland and 80 million ha. of land devoted to livestock grazing are endangered by the extreme drought during the winter months.

"Instead of waiting for emergency situations, we are taking steps to support producers," said Arroyo Marroquin.

Producers will be able to use the funds for such purposes as planting more drought-resistant grasses, building up their forage supplies, and digging wells.

Severe drought forced President Zedillo's administration to declare drought emergencies in seven northern and central states last year (see SourceMex, 1999-03-03, 1999-05-26).

Last year's drought was part of an overall dry pattern that has prevailed in Mexico for several years, creating the need for emergency assistance to the agriculture sector (see SourceMex, 1996-03-27, 1996-06-12, 1998-08-05).

The northcentral states of Zacatecas, San Luis Potosi, and Durango have yet to recover from the dry conditions of the past two years. Some estimates indicate that Zacatecas-- Mexico's largest bean producer--lost 60% of its crops last year to drought (see SourceMex, 1999-08-25). At the national level, SAGAR officials said a 2% reduction in total crop production in 1999 was the direct result of drought.

While the lingering dryness remains a major concern in much of the northern and central region, SAGAR is especially worried about the arid conditions in Sonora and Sinaloa, two of Mexico's top agricultural states.

Jose Navarro Salazar, president of the Sonora-based Asociacion Nacional de Usurios del Riego, said many reservoirs in that state are only at about 20% of their capacity. He said several important sources of water in Sonora are completely dry or will dry out by April unless the state receives significant precipitation in coming weeks. Two important agricultural areas that are endangered are the Valle del Yaqui and the Valle del Mayo, said Navarro. …

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