Impacts of Droughts

According to the Instituto Nacional de Estadística, Geografía e Informática (INEGI; i.e., National Institute of Statistics, Geography and Informatics; 1999a), maize production in the state of Chihuahua declined from 880,082 tons in 1993 to 303,627 tons in 1995 due to a drought causing $168 million in losses. Likewise, during the 1994-96 period, bean production in Coahuila State decreased from 31,908 tons to 6,035 tons causing an economic loss of about $16 million (INEGI, 2000a). Droughts plagued the state of Chihuahua and other northern states during 1993-2002 and drastically reduced the sowing area, even in irrigated districts. The water level in the 10 largest Chihuahuan reservoirs was reduced to 20% of its total capacity, from 4,259,000 to 851,800 m3. In Delicias irrigation district, crops were sown only in 25% of the land during spring-summer season due to historically low water levels in the La Boquilla Dam, which permitted the cultivation of only 26,000 ha compared to 104,000 ha during normal years.

Persistent drought also forced a high percentage of productive men of the northwest zone to migrate to the United States in search of jobs. An estimated 16,000 workers moved to the United States, mostly due to lack of agricultural jobs in Mexico (El Heraldo de Chihuahua, 2002).

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