Unseasonal heavy rainfall puts northern Peru on alert
While more wet weather than normal has been felt around much of Peru since the start of the year, continuous rainfall and now flooding in the key northern growing area of Piura is concerning the produce industry.
"In my 55 years I have never seen a situation like this in Peru. It's really terrible," Agricultural Association of Producer Unions (AGAP) president Ricardo Polis told Fresh Fruit Portal.
Piura is a major growing area of table grapes, mangoes and bananas.
The overflowing of rivers that until the end of last year had critically little water has caused flooding and serious damage to much of the country's infrastructure, he said.
"In the last 10 days the rains have been very heavy and they have not stopped," he said.
"Luckily for what is under production, so far has nothing has been heavily affected. The mango campaign has already finished, the farms of different crops are under constant rain, but without major problems. The main issue for the moment is the people."
However, Polis said that some mango packinghouses may have been damaged, especially those that have a system for hot water treatment.
"The truth is that everyone is worried about what is happening, but it's still not possible to measure the magnitude of the effects of this climatic phenomenon," he said.
"We haven't been able to go out into the field because it hasn't stopped raining, and I've tried speaking with the growers but obviously they are busy attending to the problems they have at the moment."
He added last year the Peruvian produce industry had prepared itself for the heavy rainfall anticipated as a result of the El Niño weather phenomenon by cleaning the river beds, but he explained the recent rainfall had been far too intense.
According to Peru's Agriculture Ministry, some 1,200 hectares of Piura farmland have so far been affected by the rainfall and flooding
"It is estimated that the damage to crop farms has not been greater, due to the opportune intervention of the agricultural sector in close cooperation with the regional authorities, which has reduced the impacts of the natural phenomenon on the industry," it said in a statement.
Local media El Commercio reported that a portion of the region's organic banana production had been damaged by the rainfall and could no longer be exported.