El Salvador’s coffee plantations, especially those in the lowlands where temperatures have been breaking records in recent weeks, are starting to spread dead plants with burnt leaves.
“Right now, water scarcity has reached alarming levels,” said Sergio Tikas, president of the Salvadoran Coffee Association (Acafesal). “It’s starting to damage our coffee plantations,” he added.
Tikas explained that the sporadic rains from February to April last year have caused the plants to start flowering. The problem, he continued, is that the trees need a lot of water in the soil to grow fruit and get ready to be cut, but the high temperatures keep the surface dry.
Farms in Ahuachapán were the most affected, according to Acafezar, with a cumulative rainfall of 10 millimeters (mm) at this location as of May 22, followed by Santiago de Maria in Usulután province with 22 millimeters. It is said that “Accumulated rainfall will be minimal, normally in excess of 150mm,” Tikas said.
Wind of crisis.
This year, the rainy season has been delayed due to the transition from La Niña to El Niño. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN) has warned that drought is very likely this winter, a wake-up call to the agricultural sector where losses from extreme weather are reported annually.
“The El Niño phenomenon, which causes meteorological droughts in various parts of our country, is threatening coffee plantations and other crops,” Tikas said, referring to the establishment of the Ministry of Agriculture (MAG) and a technical committee last week. Guaranteed. and the recently established El Salvador Coffee Association to support producers.
Grain producers are also worried about a recurrence of droughts like the one in 2018, when more than 40 days without rain in July and August left millions of dollars in losses.
Luis Treminio, president of El Salvador’s Chamber of Small and Medium Agricultural Producers (Campo), said the only solution they’ve found so far is to delay the start of planting, which traditionally starts in late May, until May 5. Told. . June.
Treminio warned that high temperatures could cause plants to stunt or run the risk of being malnourished, affecting yields. “If the predictions are met, the August-November period (El Niño probability) will exceed 80% and no production will occur,” he said.
On the other hand, Akkafsar believes that shallow water farms at 800 meters above sea level are in urgent need of foliar spraying to ameliorate the nutritional problems of the plants.