Farm infrastructure struggles to cope with excess rainfall after decade-long drought

Copyright Daniela Quezada

Copyright Daniela Quezada

Asoex is assessing damage to fruit production in Central and South Chile caused by recent heavy rains. The association said it is looking at the impact on water storage and irrigation infrastructure, as well as evaluating support actions to communities impacted by the rain.

“We regret the losses and challenging times that hundreds of people are facing due to these rains. Our heart goes out to them, especially the people working in the countryside and rural areas of Chile,” said president Iván Marambio.

“It has been many years since we have seen rains like these, generating a rise in water levels in the basins and causing rivers and streams to swell. Although the country was expecting rainfall that would allow us to combat our 10+ year drought, we are now facing an excess of precipitation in a very short time and with inadequate infrastructure.”

Reports show that accumulated rainfall between 19 and 25 June in several areas from Valparaíso to Los Lagos received more than 100mm of rain. Some parts of Maule and Ñuble saw more than 200mm in that time.

“Our first concern is the people, but we are also worried about damage to canals and dams,” Marambio continued. “We’ve closed intakes and canals due to excess flow, but in some cases, this hasn’t been enough, and people in the surrounding areas have been impacted.”

Marambio stressed the importance of communities, unions, private industry, and the public sector working together to address the challenges created by climate change and said Asoex would work hard to achieve this unity and improve the country water infrastructure.

Asoex said there has been no reported damage to fruit so far, although there have been some interruptions in citrus harvesting due to weather conditions. The association is currently undertaking an assessment of damage to orchards from flooding and mud, as well as to automatic irrigation systems and infrastructure.

“We will be able to better assess the full impact over the next few days,” Marambio said.