Natural disasters increase agricultural imports in Latin America

In the latest FAO report on the impact of climate-related natural disasters in agriculture, Latin American countries are, along with the Asians, who have seen their imports more as a result of these phenomena. Natural disasters fired agricultural imports in Latin America in the last decade, while the production of raw materials in the countries of the region, some major exporters declined worldwide, according to FAO. In the latest report of the UN agency on the impact of climate-related disasters in agriculture, Latin American countries are, along with the Asians, who have seen their imports more as a result of these phenomena. Between 2003 and 2011 the Latin American and Caribbean agricultural commodities bought from abroad amounting to 13,000 million dollars (12,300 million euros), while exports fell by 1,000 million dollars (945 million euros).

Emergency specialist of the Organization of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today that Neil Marsland major disasters generally lead to a decrease in domestic production and exports, which has also happened in Latin America and the Caribbean. “That affects the value chain. Start with the commodity but, if you try to process something like food, usually exports of processed or fresh foods fall and imports will grow”, he said. In total, estimated losses in the region were about 11,000 million dollars (10,360 million euros) in terms of agricultural production, especially among cash crops such as coffee, sugar cane and tropical fruits, and other basic such as cassava or potatoes. In Brazil, for example, coffee yields fell 10% after the 2007 drought, with consequent impact on international market prices, according to the study. In relative terms these losses constituted 3% of the estimated value of production in the region, according to data of the report, which adds that 55% of the damage was caused by flooding and to a lesser extent by drought and storms. Among other cases, the study analyzes the situation in Brazil after the 2009 floods in the northeast, in Colombia after the 2007, 2008 and 2011; in Mexico following hurricane “Emily” 2005, floods in Tabasco in 2007 and the drought of 2011, and in Paraguay after the drought between 2011 and 2012.

“The floods are much more destructive in terms of infrastructure and drought cause less damage, but these can lead to large losses of crops and livestock”, said Marsland. The expert also highlighted the problem of drought in Central America, especially in the area of Corredor Seco, who this season is on alert for the possible negative impact of El Niño. Against bad weather, technical FAO explained that there are strategies that include distribution of seeds and fertilizers, or reconstruction of irrigation systems, roads and grain warehouses. He also said, sometimes farmers can receive cash to buy food in exchange for work such as cleaning of irrigation canals or benefit insurance, export incentives and trade agreements between countries to promote exchanges in this class emergencies.

Source: MéxicoXport