Although there are still no official consolidated figures, the heavy frosts that have been recorded in the Colombian regions of Boyacá and Cundinamarca have resulted in losses in more than 67,000 hectares of pastures and crops.
Of the 150,000 hectares that Boyacá has for food production, 43,000 have already been affected by the cold temperatures, which have fallen as low as -8 ºC, according to the Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies (Ideam).
This figure, added to the 12,500 producers who have been harmed in that department, has led Governor Ramiro Barragán to ask permission from the Disaster Risk Management Council to issue a public calamity declaration due to frost in 57 municipalities, with Sogamoso, Sotaquirá, Belén, Cerinza, Floresta, Tuta, Siachoque, Caldas, Firavitoba, Toca, Motavita, Paipa, Cómbita, San Miguel de Sema, Tunja and Gámeza being the most affected.
According to Luis Gerardo Arias, Secretary of Agriculture of Boyacá, grasslands are the most affected crops (82%), followed by potatoes, onions, legumes, vegetables, cereals and fruit trees.
The situation in Cundinamarca is just as bad. Nicolás García, governor of that department, said that 19,000 hectares of pastures, as well as 5,400 hectares of crops, have already been affected. This means that about 2% of the region’s productive area has been affected.
The province of the Ubaté Valley is the most affected. Frost damage has also been recorded in some municipalities of Santander. This has been the case of Tona, where temperatures have reached -4 °C.
Daniel Useche, director of Forecasts and Alerts at Ideam, said that departments such as Boyacá and Cundinamarca will continue to record this climatic phenomenon, as there will be little cloudiness and significant decreases in air temperatures will follow. For that reason, in municipalities such as Sogamoso, Toca and Cerinza, the temperatures will stay below zero in the coming days.
Useche said that although plans are made to address these weather phenomena, which are usual for this time of year, nature is unpredictable, and that is why it is recommended to set up plastic coverings for the crops and to try mitigating the impact of the low temperatures
To tackle this situation, the Government announced that another 5,000 million pesos (about 1.36 million Euro) will be used to address the emergency and that there will also be a census of those affected.
For its part, the Agrarian Bank reduced the interest rate of the agro-inputs credit card from 14 to 11% and has announced a refinancing of the credits granted to the producers by this credit institution.