In Peru’s government budget of over $1 billion to mitigate the potential disasters of the approaching El Niño weather phenomenon, $275 million is to be invested in the agricultural sector, daily La Republica reported.
Agriculture Minister Juan Benitez said that the prevention works already underway include strengthening defenses along riverbanks and cleaning out irrigation canals in northern Peru, where the El Niño will bring rains and can cause heavy damage. Last year, the government invested 70 million soles ($25 million) in the northern region of Piura and another 30 million soles in the neighboring Lambayeque region.
Benitez said that it is still unclear how strong El Niño will be this year.
“There were rains yesterday that were not usual, but also not significant,” he said. “We are preparing a package of riverbank projects for 2015, which will be undertaken in critical zones between now and October this year.” The El Niño begins to fully develop around Christmastime, hence its name of the [Christ] Child.
The natural phenomenon is a band of anomalously warm ocean water that occurs in the Pacific Ocean about every three to five years. It affects weather patterns throughout the Pacific. On Peru’s coast, it pushes the cold, northbound Humboldt current further from shore, affecting fish stocks and bird populations, bringing rains to the north desert and drought to the southern highlands.
Agricultural expert Reynaldo Trinidad said the government could take advantage of the El Niño in order to irrigate coastal desert zones.
“We could take advantage of this El Niño to reforest,” he said.