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News Article

Water Shortages Hamper Autumn-Winter 2020/2021 Cycle

By Peter Appleby | Tue, 12/29/2020 - 13:07

Droughts have caused critically-low levels of water for irrigation in northern and western states and will likely reduce agricultural output in the autumn-winter 2020/2021 cycle, says the Agricultural Markets Consulting Group (GCMA).

According to the group, Sinaloa, Jalisco, Nayarit, Sonora, Tamaulipas, Michoacan and Chihuahua are all suffering from low water levels. Collectively, water levels in the states’ 16 dam systems have dropped by 44.2 percent from the 40.846 billion m³ stored in the same period last year to 22.805 billion m³ as of Dec. 16. The dams are at only 41 percent of their capacity. Nayarit, Chihuahua and Michoacán suffered the heaviest water losses, falling 61.7 percent, 55.4 percent and 53.6 percent respectively in comparison to last year.

The current water levels account for 34.2 percent of Mexico’s entire water availability and underline the dangerously low-capacity levels of these vital dams. According to the GCMA, the crops that would be most impacted by the scarcity of water would be corn, wheat, sorghum and beans, which would likely lead to higher imports of basic grains in the coming year.

Sonora, which has 22 percent less water stored this year than 2020, declared a state of emergency for the general population in 72 municipalities due to the scarcity of drinking water. Sonoran Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Water Resources and Fisheries Jorge Guzmán Nieves told El Diario de Sonora yesterday that a state of emergency for the agriculture and livestock sector had been applied. “We are awaiting a response from the federal government,” he said. 

Chihuahua has seen civil unrest in recent months as farmers clashed with the national guard in protests against the federal government’s decision to send water to the US in order to pay off water debts. Farmers in the drought-stricken state stormed La Boquilla dam and shut off the floodgates to stop water leaving. Two protestors were killed during the clash.

The Ecological Threat Register, a thinktank associated to the Institute of Economics and Peace and that produces indexes on natural threats to nations, puts Mexico in the same water stress category as war-torn Syria and Middle Eastern nations including Afghanistan and Pakistan. Chile is the only other Latin America nation as threatened by water stress as Mexico.

Meanwhile, the country recently published statistics to show that the country hit its highest agri-food trade balance in 26 years, driven by exports of avocado, tequila and mezcal in particular.

Peter Appleby Peter Appleby Journalist and Industry Analyst