Citriculture Chamber of Rio Grande do Sul debates losses in the sector due to heavy rains

In the Serra region, around 60 hectares of citrus in Bento Gonçalves, out of a total of 190, were directly or indirectly affected

22.05.2024 | 17:03 (UTC -3)
Darlene Silveira
Photo: Disclosure
Photo: Disclosure

To assess the impacts of the rains and floods that caused damage to the crop, representatives of the Citrus Sector Chamber of the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Sustainable Production and Irrigation (Seapi) met extraordinarily online today. The coordinator of the Chamber and president of the Montenegrin Fruit Growers Association, Pedro Wollmann, led the work, together with the agronomist from Seapi Paulo Lipp. Estimates from Emater/RS indicate losses of more than 50% in the harvest as a whole.

Wollmann said that the Vale do Caí region had problems of varying severity with the latest rains that affected the entire Rio Grande do Sul. “Around 80% of citrus growers were directly affected and suffered total or partial loss. Another problem was early citrus fruit due to high humidity, which resulted in a 70% loss in the Caí and Ponkan bergamot varieties. In addition to the late ones, which had fruit cracking and fungal diseases due to humidity. Such losses have never been seen in the history of citrus farming in Rio Grande do Sul,” he defined.

In the Serra region, around 60 hectares of citrus in Bento Gonçalves, out of a total of 190, were directly or indirectly affected. In Veranópolis, of 140 hectares, 33 were affected by the rains.

The technical director of Emater/RS, Luis Bohn, stated that citrus farming was one of the most affected crops, with fruit falling and defoliation, among other problems. “The projected loss is more than 50% in the harvest”, he believes.

An almost unanimous point addressed was the concern about the lack of seedlings and the entry of unauthorized and uncontrolled seedlings from other states. “This is a problem for producers in Pareci Novo too, because of the risk of greening entering Rio Grande do Sul”, reported the coordinator of the Vale do Caí Citrus Chamber, Ivan Streit. Wollmann, in turn, emphasized that supervision of Seapi's Plant Defense must be intensified. “This matter will be a priority at the Secretariat”, guaranteed the deputy general director, Clair Kuhn.

A concern also highlighted by the director of Seapi's Plant Defense Department, Ricardo Felicetti. He stated that a Normative Instruction from the Secretariat is about to be issued regulating the acquisition of citrus seedlings from other states. “And I would like to suggest that any acquisition be endorsed by Seapi, to prevent the entry of greening and other diseases into Rio Grande do Sul.”

The financial institutions Sicredi, Banrisul and Banco do Brasil expressed broad support for producers in Rio Grande do Sul, through the extension of deadlines and new rural credits with subsidized interest. For some cases of almost total crop loss, Fetag is requesting payment amnesty, mainly for producers in Vale do Caí who had already suffered from the last two floods in 2023 and are even renegotiating financing.

The institutions were to forward the regulation of Provisional Measure No. 1216, from the Federal Executive (Economic subsidy to serve areas affected by extreme weather events located in the State of Rio Grande do Sul), which provides for the extension of financing from the National Agricultural Strengthening Program Family (Pronaf) and the National Support Program for Medium Rural Producers (Pronamp).

Another request from the sector is that the state government supports producers in the most affected municipalities with machine hours and input donations. It was also requested to maintain and expand the Soil Recovery Program that the government had already offered due to the last two floods.

The demands will be forwarded to the Secretary of Agriculture Giovani Feltes.

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