Drought in North East Brazil

drought1Cristino Castro and regions of the Brazilian North East are undergoing a period of severe drought. There was some rainfall in November and December, but since then there was only one rainy week at the end of January.

Droughts are not uncommon, though. The rainy period in southern Piauí normally starts in November and ends in April. However, there are some years with very little rainfall. Or even if there is rain, it might come too early, too late or there can be a big gap in the middle of rainy season. These irregularities have a greater affect on small farmers who can lose significant part of their crops.

water-tankblogTo counter the impact of the drought the government releases loans with a prolonged time of repayment (up to 10 years) in case of emergency. These loans are related to use of water sources and enable people to build water tanks, ponds, cisterns, fences, planting pasture or other types of technical infrastructure. It is available only if the municipality declares a status of emergency.

But this still isn’t a solution for immediate food aid. The truth is that Brazil has enough food resources coming from southern part of the country. Hopefully there will be a strategy of bringing the food to the North East if needed later this year.

This entire situation repeatedly brings up the importance of sustainable development based on underground water resources. Cristino Castro has a huge potential for agricultural production, even in times of drought, but the water resources have to be used effectively and wisely.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. I remember when we lived in Cristino and we were saddened that the underground water sources were not being well used for agricultural production. But as always things are far more complicated that they first appear. Irrigation systems are expensive, crops are very susceptible to disease and the major markets are hundreds of kms away. There needs to be local production for local consumption but there isn’t much money to be made from this and that is one reason why local people with financial resources don’t invest in irrigation systems.

  2. Thanks Rosalba for outlining the reasons. It’s just difficult to understand why are the supermarkets bringing vegetables from hundreds kilometers distant Pernambuco. I think there is a market for small farmers nowadays, just to supply Cristino Castro and surrounding towns. After the initial investment to the irrigation system, there is definitely a return. And it seems that materials for irrigation system are easier available than before. There is also the agriculture focused university in Bom Jesus where diseases are researched.

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