Latin American farmers get back on their feet
Brieones lost everything in 1998 when the weather
phenomenon El Niño hit hard in Ecuador. Now
he is getting back on his feet
Farmer Ethiel Brieones lost everything in 1998 when the weather phenomenon El Niño hit hard in Ecuador. Now he is getting back on his feet (FAO/K.Iversen)
"It rained every day for 10 months. Water and mud came down from the mountains," says Mr Brieones, pointing to the hills behind his farm in the village of Sitio Mejía. "It almost reached the windows of our house. All my trees died."
All the water canals in the area were filled with infertile mud that also covered hectare after hectare of land. The rain was followed by months of drought, and Mr Brieones' field -- along with fields in the rest of the province -- was left grey and hard as cement. Many farmers lost all they had, and a year of very low production followed.
But now Mr Brieones' two hectares are green again,
covered with papayas, peppers, beans, bananas and maize. In
response to the reduced soil fertility and motivated by a
project initiated in1999 in the province by FAO's Special
Programme for Food Security (SPFS), Mr Brieone and 530 other
farmers have changed crops and cultivation methods. As a
result, last year he had a very good harvest and was able to
produce more food for his family (For more about the SPFS
project in Ecuador, click
State of Food and Agriculture 2001
Mr Brieones' situation reflects overall conditions in Latin America as presented in The State of Food and Agriculture 2001 (SOFA 2001), FAO's annual report on current developments affecting world agriculture.
"Among the developing country regions, the strongest performance in 1999 was recorded in Latin America and the Caribbean, where growth in agricultural output strengthened significantly to an estimated 4.6 percent, after a growth rate of only 1.8 percent in 1998," says the report, which reviews recent agricultural performance at world and regional levels. The Latin American growth rate in 1999 was twice the worldwide rate of 2.3 percent. Brazil, Ecuador and Peru performed especially well in 1999.
Other interesting findings in SOFA 2001 concern the future of the agricultural trading environment, the costs of hunger and the economic impact of transboundary plant pests and animal diseases.
11 September 2001