( File photo )

Drought conditions in Chile are stressing Chilean fruit producers, according to a new report from Fedefruta, the Federation of Fruit Producers of Chile.

Fedefruta surveyed members in the main fruit-growing regions of the country and shared the results with Chile’s Ministry of Agriculture, according to a news release. 

The survey polled 375 growers from the Atacama region in the desert north to Los Lagos in southern Chile, according to the release.

For many growers, the crisis is real.

“Six out of ten producers will not be able to irrigate at least one part of their orchards,” Jorge Valenzuela, president of Fedefruta, said in the release.

According to the survey:

  • 87.5% of respondents said water crisis is “delicate” or “unsustainable,” with 61.5% describing the crisis as “delicate” and 26% calling the water crisis “unsustainable.” About 12% called the water situation “sustainable.”;
  • 74% of fruit producers postponed investments in replanting, adding acreage, expanding packing operations, and other investments;
  • 59% of fruit growers said they would stop watering at least 20% of their acreage;
  • 35% of fruit acreage may have lower yields, with the most affected crops identified as table grapes, nuts, cherries, grapefruit, apples and pears; 
  • 45% said irrigation technologies such as sensors and data management has/will help; 41% said technology will help in part and 4.5% said technology would not help;
  • Hiring of seasonal workers could decrease by as much as 30%; and
  • Growers said investment in reservoirs to help ease water shortage, followed by investments in desalination plants and recharging of acquifers.