Chile: Ministry estimates over 100,000 hectares of agricultural land affected by frontal system

Chile: Ministry estimates over 100,000 hectares of agricultural land affected by frontal system

The Minister of Agriculture indicated that an approximate additional 180,000 hectares indirectly affected, corresponding to irrigation systems, are also included.

Using radar and optical satellite images, the Center for Information on Natural Resources (CIREN), under the Ministry of Agriculture, is working to identify, quantify, and characterize the areas affected by the floods caused by the frontal system last week, that provoked damage to the agricultural sector from the Valparaíso Region to Biobío in Chile.

From the premises of the National Service for Disaster Prevention and Response (SENAPRED), Minister of Agriculture, Esteban Valenzuela, presented the preliminary figures of the affected territory based on satellite information. “It is a very concrete and effective instrument, which provides a diagnosis of the reality prior to this historic torrential downpour and the current situation. The impact, already measured in 4 regions, is on 100,000 hectares of agricultural land, corresponding to where the river basins overflowed and caused direct damage (…) This Tuesday, we will have the information for the Metropolitan and Valparaíso regions, completing the 6 most affected regions,” said the government authority.

In addition to these figures, there is damage to the irrigation systems that require the action of the National Irrigation Commission (CNR). “To these 100-120 thousand hectares, which will probably be directly affected according to the data from Valparaíso and the Metropolitan Region, approximately 180,000 hectares are indirectly affected by mud and the lack of water for irrigation, which should be available for agriculture in September,” stated the authority.

Regarding the usefulness of the information and how it will be utilized, the Minister of Agriculture commented, “This data will be shared with INDAP, the Undersecretary of Agriculture, and the SAG because the inventory of agroforestry damage is very important. We have worked with the Ministry of Economy, led by Minister Grau, to be transparent and precise with the damages and ensure that public resources are well-utilized.”

Regarding the methodology used to obtain this information, which involved the work of over sixty professionals, Katherine Araya, Executive Director of CIREN, explained, “This agricultural emergency viewer has allowed us to obtain accurate information on the affected and flooded areas from the Valparaíso to Biobío Region using radar and, in some cases, optical satellite images. The methodology used involved analyzing the river basins and the riverbanks. SENAPRED has a system for accessing the CHARTER, an international system that allows the visualization of all existing satellite constellations in space over the affected territories. This is coordinated by SENAPRED with different services, in this case, the Ministry of Agriculture (MINAGRI).”

Regarding the system that gathers this information, Minister of Science, Aisén Etcheverry, highlighted its speed, accuracy, and utility. “CIREN is part of the network of public technological institutes where the government conducts research, and the reason for this is precisely what we see today: science and technology allow us to have much more accurate, precise, and rapid information. Without satellites and the work of these professionals in analysis, it would have taken us several months to gather and visualize this information. This would not have been possible ten years ago. It also allows us to make the information available for those researching these topics to provide recommendations for better prevention measures and associated public policies,” she emphasized.

Finally, Alicia Cebrian, Deputy Director of Disaster Risk Management at SENAPRED, stated, “As SENAPRED, we coordinate with various institutions and organizations to activate these capacities, which are increasingly important in information management. The details of this information are essential to assess the damage, conduct inventories, and have accurate information about the affected people and their affected ways of life.”

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