Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Drought Threatens Nicaraguan Food Supply

July is the end of the first growing season in Nicaragua…or should be, but Nicaragua is in a drought caused by a meteorological phenomenon called El Niño.  The band of warm Pacific waters collects off the coasts in South America and creates drought around the countries along the equator. 

Nicaragua gets rain typically from May to November.  Usually it starts raining in May and farmers hurriedly plant their crops.  From mid-July to mid-August the rains slack off and farmers harvest their first crop of the season.  When the rains start back up, the next crop goes in the ground to be harvested in November and December.  From November to May, hardly a drop of rain falls.

This year the first season’s crops failed due to no rain or not enough rain.  What does this mean for the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere?
  • ·         Food prices have risen including meat and dairy as cattle starve.
  • ·         Red beans (the most important source for protein) are now imported beans and have doubled in price.
  • ·         Rural farmers do not have enough to feed their families and have lost all capital.
  • ·         Coffee the main export crop, which suffered last year from a fungus, is now suffering from lack of rain.  This hits the national budget as well as small coffee producers and  the already low paid, landless, temporary workers.
·         Most of the food grown for local consumption is grown in the Western and central part of Nicaragua which is the section of Nicaragua that is being affected by El Niño.

The rains are not expected to start until September and no one really knows how well these rains will be.  Nicaragua is one of the 10 most vulnerable countries for climate change.  Many climatologists consider that El Niño has been strengthened due to the warming of the sea waters because of climate change.

The chart to the left is Nasa's reporting of the rise of temperatures over the 60 years.

Nicaragua has 52% of its energy coming from renewable sources with a goal of 94% by 2017.  Nicaragua has an aggressive reforestation program.  Nicaragua has the second largest rain forest in the Western Hemisphere and yet suffers severely from climate change…doesn’t seem fair, does it?  

But as history dictates the poor suffer while the wealthy consume and consume…which is why Gandhi said that “Poverty is the worst form of violence.”  Clothed in silence poverty breaks the human spirit and kills on a rampant scale.