Valenzuela categorized the impacts of the front into three aspects: “On one hand, winter vegetables, which are currently being harvested or in the growth stage, have been flooded and lost in many areas. Fruit trees have been primarily affected, especially those in bloom in the Metropolitan Region. The rains affected bee pollination. Therefore, as these rains are also associated with cold weather, this will have a significant impact. The most significant problems are in irrigation infrastructure, both intra-field within farms and irrigation equipment, irrigation pumps, internal channels; and extra-field, all the canals and streams that have overflowed, river intakes, many of which are damaged today.”
He noted that it’s challenging to estimate the consequences now, “The Ministry of Agriculture has rushed to say that horticultural products will increase in price by 10 or 20%, since we are still in the midst of the frontal system.”
He also pointed out that flooded fields won’t be workable for a while, so future vegetables will also be impacted to an extent that cannot be calculated today. Valenzuela estimated that it will take about three weeks to have a clearer view of the impact on the agricultural sector.
The sector leader also reminded that everything beyond the farm’s boundaries depends on permits and machinery from the authority. “As a farmer, you can’t intervene in a canal or river without the necessary permits. Today, with the Agricultural Emergency declared, we welcome this because it speeds up resources, and we want to urge the authorities to expedite permits so we can work on rivers, canals, and streams.”
Regarding prices, the president of FEDEFRUTA was emphatic in stating that there will indeed be an impact, “It’s impossible not to. This will be seen in winter vegetables like lettuces and potatoes, some citrus fruits that are being harvested or are in the final third of the harvest as well. In terms of fruit, not yet; most are in the dormant stage, in winter rest. But here in the Metropolitan Region and part of the O’Higgins Region, all peaches, nectarines, and plums are in the flowering stage, and there could be production losses.”
Finally, cherry growers might be more relieved, Valenzuela indicated that “cherries have been fortunate in that they aren’t in bloom yet. If this happened in two more weeks, then yes, they would have been impacted.”