The lava from the La Palma volcano has destroyed about 90 hectares of banana trees in the coastal area of the Aridane Valley, “the most expensive in the Canary Islands and Spain” for the cultivation of this fruit and whose market value ranges between 35 and the 40 million euros.
The data has been provided by the Canarian Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Alicia Vanoostende, in the Plenary of the Autonomous Parliament questioned by deputies Jonathan de Felipe, from the Nationalist Group (CC-PNC-AHI), and Luis Alberto Campos, from Nueva Canary Islands.
Vanoostende has indicated that his department is conducting a survey of disused farms, as a land bank, to offer an alternative to producers who have lost everything, their housing and their livelihood.
However, he has warned that this is a “very difficult” search due to the orography of La Palma, due to the scarce availability of land and the existing levels of protection, and has slipped the possibility of reclassifying land.
Apart from the disappeared farms, he pointed out that there are many others, south of the colada, that have been isolated and without water supply.
Vanoostende has highlighted the “diligence” of the Canary Islands Government in enabling two portable desalination plants and has announced that next week a course will be organized with farmers and cooperative technicians on the use of desalinated water for irrigation, something to which in La Palma “we are not used to it”.
Given the reluctance of Jonathan de Felipe regarding desalination plants, because they use “a lot of fossil energies”, but above all because of the sodium chloride load in the seedlings and its impregnation in the roots, the counselor has indicated that several solutions are being considered. term.
Among them, a canalization from Fuencaliente and take it upstream to the Cuatro Caminos reservoir, or bring it from Cumbre Vieja, using a fire network and surrounding the volcano, or an underwater pipeline, although this option would depend on the evolution of the fajana.
The counselor has indicated that aid is being considered for possible losses of seedlings and for the replanting of farms in “the hypothetical case” that they cannot be saved with the desalination plants and with a tanker that is scheduled to arrive in the next few hours.
And he has also spoken of aid in the face of the probable fall of greenhouses due to the weight of the ash accumulated on the roofs.
Alicia Vanoostende has estimated at 80% the loss of production due to the ash in the Aridane Valley, and 50% in Fuencaliente and Tijarafe, and has added that consensus is being reached with associations and cooperatives on how to compensate these losses.
It has expressed its concern for the rest of the banana cultivation chain, which includes collectors, transporters, packaging, sale of boxes or phytosanitary products, and has guaranteed that the Ministry does what it can “so that it does not stop completely. ”.
Regarding packaging, he has indicated that there are factories in exclusion zones, such as El Remo, and has acknowledged that there is fear for the future of this activity.
As for other crops, the counselor has indicated that in the vineyards there has hardly been an incidence due to the ash, since when the volcano erupted most of the producers had harvested; Not so in avocados, which were already coming from “a difficult year” due to the heat wave and wind in August that ruined all production.
Regarding the effect of the ash in the future, he pointed out that at this time “we do not know how long -the eruption- or its extent will last”, and that it will depend on several factors, such as the amount that ends up in the crops and its composition .
In this sense, CSIC technicians are analyzing it to see its nutrients and its possible effects on the flora and crops of the island.
The counselor has also specified that the lava has buried five cheese factories, one of which was set up “in record time in two weeks” in another location, and that aid is being considered for the affection of the ash in the forage.
Regarding the fishing sector, it has indicated that there are 33 affected boats, 30 shipowners and between two and three sailors per boat, who had their fishing ground in the area of the fajana, where they went for shrimp and for bait.
For now, Vanoostende highlighted, they will receive 2,500 euros per shipowner and 1,500 euros per sailor per fleet stop.
Beyond the reality of the primary sector, the counselor, who has received the support of the parliamentary groups, has admitted that in this volcanic crisis the situation “every day is more difficult”, since it has already caused “many losses and we do not know how many more ”will provoke.
He understands that “the time has come to rethink the island, to rethink it in its entirety.”