Mérida, 26th June 2014 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan authorities are taking special measures to reduce the impact of the drought affecting the country, which is estimated to be the seventh worst in the last sixty years.
The reduced level of rainfall and the subsequent prolonging of the November – April dry season is taking its toll on the northwest of Venezuela in particular. In these areas the drought has led to lowered water levels in dams, reduced crop planting, and higher than usual cattle mortality.
On Sunday, Environment Minister Miguel Leonardo Rodriguez said to press that water conservation plans had been implemented in affected areas. A recent VA.com report also detailed the plan to introduce limited water rationing in the capital Caracas. Meanwhile areas less affected by the drought, such as the Andes region, are not experiencing a reduction in the water supply.
Rodriguez called on people to engage in the “rational” use of water “until the rainy season arrives and the dams are filled again”.
The minister also said that the El Niño phenomenon, the incremental warming of the Pacific Ocean, had not yet made a direct impact on the drought; however, if it does the situation will likely worsen.
"El Niño has not affected [Venezuela] yet, but it is possible that it might appear during the second half of the year. This would mean more droughts and we should be prepared if that happens," said Rodriguez.
If climatic conditions do not improve then more restrictions on water use would need to be implemented, which would be done in consultation with communities, the minister added.
Agricultural action plan
The Ministry of Lands and Agriculture (MAT) also announced a plan of action to mitigate the likely reduced agricultural production this year due to the drought. According to the MAT, corn, rice, and cattle production are being affected the most.
Measures taken include distributing sacks of animal feed to small producers affected by the drought and introducing a more flexible agro-loan repayment scheme for farmers of impacted “strategic” agricultural products.
The government is also analysing the possibility of increasing price caps on affected staple products, and has stressed that resources are being mobilised for mass crop planting when the rains arrive.
“I think it’s important to say that…we’re taking action to guarantee the most production we can in adverse climatic conditions and to protect producers so they don’t confront a situation of eventual bankruptcy,” said Agriculture Minister Yvan Gil yesterday.
Farmers and ranchers have been warning about the effects of the drought since the dry season began to prolong itself in April, and have called on the government to act. Authorities had also been planning for a drought due to the possibility of an El Niño-related dry spell.