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GIEWS Update-detail
FAO/GIEWS Global Watch

28 February 2008

Ecuador - Torrential rains damage more than 100 000 hectares of food and cash crops



Since mid-February, the intensification of seasonal rains has caused several floods and landslides, affecting about 50 per cent of total territory. On February 20, the Government declared state of emergency in the whole country and has requested international assistance. Damage to infrastructure, housing and agriculture are reported, especially in coastal provinces of Manabí, Guayas, Los Ríos, El Oro and Canar. The population whose livelihood systems have been directly and indirectly affected is estimated at 3.5 million by the Ministry of Coastal Areas, responsible for coordination of the emergency response. So far, some 265 000 people have been evacuated and some 15 000 are in temporary shelters.

Agricultural losses are provisionally estimated at nearly 70 000 hectares. The most affected food and cash crops are paddy, maize, cocoa, plantains, bananas and sugar cane. In addition, some 30 000 hectares of pasture land have also been damaged. About 40 per cent of national agricultural losses are concentrated in the province of Manabí, affecting in particular the important export earning sectors of cocoa and bananas. The Government may need to authorize the importation of some quantities of rice to face temporary food shortages.

In the main markets of Quito and Guayaquil, shortages of commodities such as rice, maize, fruits (pineapples, papayas) and vegetables (tomatoes, onions, peppers), due to crop losses as well as difficulties in transport, have already caused a sharp increase of retail prices, in some cases up to 100 per cent, with negative effects on food access by most vulnerable families.

As a response to the current situation, the Government is about to launch an emergency project with the main goal to boost agricultural production. It will provide seeds and fertilizers, feed and medicines for livestock as well as technical assistance. The project will last from March to December 2008 and will help some 50 000 persons.

The winter season is just beginning and heavy rains are expected to continue until the end of March in various provinces, with the possibility of further floods and overflowing of dams.