A delegation from Chile’s Ministry if Agriculture (MINAGRI), headed by Minister of Agriculture, Carlos Furche, visited the flood affected areas of Atacama earlier this week in order to assess the damage to crops, land and the region’s farming infrastructure.
Copiapó Valley is one of the farming areas affected by the floods in Atacama Region. Much of the farming there is medium to small, mainly producing tomatoes, watermelons, corn and lettuce. Crops, greenhouses and irrigation structures have all been damaged or destroyed in the floods, and with them the livelihoods of many of the local farmers.
After visiting the areas and seeing the destruction first hand, the Minister of Agriculture promised financial aid of around $5 million US dollars to rebuild canals, wells and other irrigation structures.
The minister said, “Our top priority now is to restore irrigation channels and infrastructure as soon as possible so we can then determine if crops can be saved.”
Another priority is to test the soil for contamination. The minister said that local farmers had expressed concern regarding the soil and earth that had been washed onto their land by the floods.
Farmers will be involved in collecting samples from their own land, which will then be sent to a laboratory for testing by Chile’s Institute of Agricultural Research (INIA).