Torrential Storms in Chile Affect 30 Percent of Fruit Hectares

Fri. April 17th, 2015 - by Christofer Oberst

CHILE - Top representatives of the Association of Exporters of Fruits of Chile AG (ASOEX) met to discuss the state of the fruit sector for the Atacama region after it was attacked by torrential storms and record floods.

So far of the 5,000 fruit hectares, 30 percent or more were affected by the flooding, with 400 of them having suffered total losses, according to an ASOEX press release.

"The situation in the Region atacama is serious,” Lina Arrieta, President of Asociación de Productores y Exportadores Agrícolas del Valle de Copiapó (APECO), said in a statement addressing an initial diagnosis of the situation. “Of the nine districts of the region, five were seriously damaged by the floods, and only four of them had no major effects.”

APECO and the agriculture officials in the area seem to be doing everything possible to aid the growers during this time, reporting that Minister of Agriculture Carlos Furche made another visit with various other officials yesterday and today to further assess the damages and try to come up with viable solutions.

The association is also supporting Atacama farmers, performing various meetings and coordinating with the authorities to find a timely and effective solution, especially with regard to channeling the Copiapó River, irrigation systems, and property taxes.

"We know it is very sad to lose your house, your things, as is all one life stress, and therefore we continue and will continue to support our workers," Arrieta said, saying that providing shelter and food to its employees was APECO’s first task when the state of emergency took place.

As far as providing aid for the agriculture itself, Arrieta said it is first a matter of getting the canals clean and the irrigation systems back online, however the initial damages sustained are significant.

"Currently 100 percent of the Valley vegetable production was affected by the alluvium, and a similar figure is in the cultivation of olive trees," Arrieta said.

For now, he continued, growers in the area are not sure how much will be recovered, but the association will continue to do what it can to assist.