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GIEWS Update-detail
FAO/GIEWS Global Watch

6 November 2007

Floods in Mexico’s State of Tabasco devastate agriculture

The south-eastern Mexican state of Tabasco has suffered the worst floods in more than 50 years after a week of heavy rain. Since 28 October, torrential precipitations have caused river levels to rise, flooding at least 80 per cent of the oil-rich state, including the capital Villahermosa. About 500 000 people have been made homeless and more than one million people, or about half of the state's population, have been affected. According to official statements, almost the totality of food and cash crops grown in the state has been lost to the floods.

Less than ten per cent of the state’s territory is devoted to agriculture, while the vast majority is covered by rain forests and mangrove. Tabasco’s agriculture is essentially rain-fed and oriented to permanent crops such as cocoa, (it is the first national producer with 25 000 tonnes, or 65 per cent of national production), plantains and coconut. Regarding cereals, the area cultivated with 2007 spring/summer crops amounted at some 45 000 hectares of maize (less than 0.6 per cent of national area) and some 13 000 hectares of paddy (about 18-20 per cent of national area). Harvesting operations started in October, before the floods, and were expected to end at the beginning of 2008. Production of 2007 spring/summer maize and paddy crops was forecast at 78 000 tonnes and 47 000 tonnes, respectively. While at national level the food supply situation will not be seriously comprised, at the regional level a difficult food security situation is anticipated for small farmers who have also lost their cash crop production. Severe crop losses have also been reported for citrus, coffee, pineapple and beans. Although harvesting of sugar cane crop was completed just before the floods with about 1.5 million tonnes (representing some 3-4 per cent of national output), plantations are likely to have suffered damage due to excessive soils moisture.

The Government of Mexico have not requested international assistance. However, the General Coordination of Civil Defense of the Secretary of Government has issued an emergency declaration in order to activate resources from the Revolving Fund for Natural Resources to assist the affected population.