Drought Mitigation and Drought Research Needs

No large-scale measures have been adopted to mitigate droughts in Latin America. The majority of the governmental agencies act on a post-facto circumstances seeking to minimize the social effects of the drought phenomenon. Nevertheless, the following measures are taken to mitigate droughts.

Climatic Risk Zoning

The climatic risk zoning defines the best sowing period for each crop to reduce the risk of drought. This approach is being developed for all of Brazil and is coordinated by the agricultural ministry (Assad, 2001). Before the implementation of this zoning, the agricultural losses due to droughts were as high as 30%, but currently the loss is reduced to under 2% in the areas where the approach was implemented. There is also a need to develop better irrigation techniques to further improve water-use efficiency and drought mitigation.

Better Planting Techniques

The use of appropriate agronomic techniques, ranging from soil management to crop selection, can help ensure survival of plant species leading to reasonable production. In the state of Sao Paulo, direct planting of maize and wheat is better than the conventional planting to withstand drought conditions, because the direct planting allows for better establishment of plants under the conditions of up to 45 days without rainfall (Cunha, 1999). It was also observed that the use of a drought-tolerant variety of maize increased the yield and resistance to drought conditions. Further research needs to be conducted to evaluate planting systems that allow the root system of plants to grow deeper and exploit a larger soil volume to mitigate impacts of droughts.

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