Drought collapses the Mexican countryside; Chihuahua, the most affected state

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The shortage of water in the country has impacted the Mexican countryside. Until last September, the Secretariat of Agriculture and Rural Development (Sader) reported 502,550 hectares of damaged crops, mainly due to low water levels. At the same time, producers and farmers requested support in the face of the prolonged drought, which, last month, reached 74.96% of the national territory.

Chihuahua, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosí, Michoacán, Nuevo León and Tamaulipas are the states with the largest agricultural area affected, according to data from the Sader Agri-Food and Fisheries Information Service. These are entities with more than 70% of their area with some degree of drought.

Of the total agricultural hectares impacted, 465,943 correspond to seasonal production, which depends on the behavior of the rains and the soil's capacity to capture

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Experts consulted by Excelsior They assure that the lack of technology, as well as public policies that promote the treatment and reuse of water, aggravate the alert in the Mexican countryside.

Given this, they propose investing in technology for agriculture, especially in irrigation and real-time monitoring of soil humidity, and promoting alternative water collection systems, such as humidity farms.


The shortage of water in the country, due to the lack of rain, has the Mexican countryside in check, with losses that impact both the profits of producers and the pockets of Mexicans.

Until last September, the crop area damaged in the country, mainly due to dry weather, reached 502,550 hectares corresponding to 24 entities. The most affected are Chihuahua, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosí, Michoacán, NL and Tamaulipas.

Of this figure, only 36,607 hectares correspond to irrigated crops, while 465,943 to rainfed production, which depends on the behavior of rainfall and the soil's capacity to capture water.

The figure skyrocketed in the last month, because while in August the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (Sader) reported 45,171 hectares damaged, by September the figure multiplied by approximately 11.

This crisis in the countryside occurs while 66.1% of the national territory suffers some degree of drought, especially in states in the north of the country and the BajĂ­o, according to the monitoring of the phenomenon by the National Water Commission (Conagua), with a cut to last October 15th. In September, the indicator reached 74.96%, its highest level this year.

For specialists consulted by Excelsiorthe lack of technology, especially in the area of ​​irrigation, as well as public policies that promote the treatment and reuse of water, aggravate the alert that the Mexican countryside is experiencing.


According to data from the Sader Agri-Food and Fisheries Information Service, Chihuahua is the state with the largest area of ​​damaged crops, with 193,266 hectares of crops affected. In the entity, the Civil Protection Council recently approved a declaration of emergency due to extreme drought. According to Conagua, 98.7% of the state has indicators at severe and extreme levels.

Zacatecas follows, with 153,684 hectares damaged and 86.6% of its territory in severe and extreme drought; San Luis Potosí, with 64,637 hectares affected, 60% of its surface in extreme drought and 12.6% in exceptional drought (the highest level); Michoacán, with 39,643 hectares damaged and 55% of the area with severe and extreme drought; Nuevo León, with 16 thousand 51 hectares damaged and 65.8% of the entity with moderate and severe drought, and Tamaulipas, with 13 thousand 88 hectares impacted and 97.7% of its surface in moderate, severe and extreme drought.

Beans, grain and feed corn, grain and feed oats, grain and feed sorghum, barley, wheat and soybeans are the most affected crops.


Around 76% of the water in our country is used for agriculture, however, its use is not efficient, warns Juan Francisco Bustamante, president of the Water in Mexico association, in an interview with Excelsior.

Water management is not being correct. We have to change this. If we believe that next year it will rain, no. We already saw it, the rainy seasons are changing,” he points out.

He explains that most of the crops in Mexico are seasonal, in which farmers adapt to the rain cycle for planting. “It is worrying that of the sector that uses water the most, which is the agricultural sector, only 5% is technical,” he says.

It details that, in our country, 90% of irrigated lands use the flooding technique, which is much less effective than others, for example, drip.

Given this, he proposes changing the entire approach to water use and not concentrating efforts on large rainwater harvesting works, such as dams, but on local alternatives, such as humidity farms that collect water from the air, even in arid areas.

We have to start capturing and reusing all the water we have. We can't keep losing her. Capture all the rainwater, treat all the water to take advantage of that water that is falling, make it drinkable and put it into the network,” he emphasizes.

He gives Israel as an example, which has even managed to go from water scarcity to overproduction, and whose agricultural production is mostly drip irrigation (75%).


For Francisco Gamboa BarrĂłn, academic at the School of Government and Economics at the Universidad Panamericana, given this problem, it is necessary to update public policies for the countryside and invest in technologies for irrigation and monitoring of crops in real time, which would allow the application the amount of water needed at the right time. However, he admits that there are few producers in the country who can access this type of technology.

The former Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock and Rural Development of Durango also explains that, currently, Mexico has an area of ​​30.2 million agricultural hectares, of which, on average, 21 million are planted annually, and of these, only 30% (about 6.5 million hectares, is under irrigation conditions.

Continuing to invest in advanced irrigation technology is essential, such as drip irrigation, microspray, which can reduce waste and increase efficiency… in addition, modern technology, such as sensorization, can also provide accurate data on soil moisture. soil and climatic conditions,” he points out.

It also suggests continuing to promote sustainable practices, such as conservation agriculture; promote recycling and reuse of water, and train producers in efficient irrigation and, from the government, promote the responsible use of water in crops.


Moisture Towers (Ethiopia): Collects rainwater, fog and dew. Captures moisture and directs it to a hygienic retention tank. It is made of bamboo and biodegradable plastic.

The system is simple, its mission is to capture moisture and direct it to a hygienic retention tank. It works without electricity and its maintenance is minimal, anyone can do it. This system is based only on natural phenomena, such as gravity, condensation and evaporation.


Water harvesting through MOF (Metal-organic Structures), they are capable of collecting water from the air in arid conditions. (Australia and Africa). At night, the lid of the box is opened, allowing the MOF to become saturated with moisture from the desert air. On the day, the box is sealed. When the dew point is reached, it condenses and water accumulates at the bottom.

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