The Tenerife countryside launches its first summer alert, in full heat wave: Urgently needs more irrigation water. The Association of Farmers and Ranchers of Canary Islands (Asaga) describes as “worrying” the situation that farmers are facing, who they suffer water restrictions in Guía de Isora, Granadilla de Abona, La Laguna (Tejina), Tegueste and, especially, in the Isla Baja region that includes the municipalities of Buenavista del Norte, Los Silos and Garachico.
The extreme temperatures and scant rains in spring and winter are behind an emergency that is especially critical, according to a statement from Asaga, on Isla Baja, where farmers and ranchers “face the impossibility of having a supply enough irrigation water for their crops, mainly bananas. The scenario is “pessimistic”, Asaga points out, as it coincides in time with the start of the summer season and in a new heat wave this July -the second-, which leads the affected producers to claim the Cabildo de Tenerife “urgent measures to minimize damage”.
It is the first SOS in the Tenerife countryside due to the lack of water but the second in the summer due to the consequences of the drought. On June 22, the Association of Farmers and Ranchers warned of the serious repercussions on potato and cereal crops. Asaga described as “sinister” the “serious losses” recorded this year, both in the potato and cereal crops, “especially in the north of Tenerife.” The losses, according to the association, range from 60 to 80% since February. Theo Hernando, general secretary of Asaga, assures that the producers are “desperate”. “We need an immediate solution while other definitive actions are considered to avoid the loss of crops,” explained the leader of the Tenerife primary sector.
The origin of this problem, which Asaga defines as a “severe water deficit”, in the Isla Baja region is related, according to the group, to the recent waterproofing work on the Taco pond, the largest on the island with a capacity of 900,000 cubic meters of irrigation water. “After the repair carried out, there has not been time to fill it due to the high consumption derived from the high temperatures registered since March,” says Asaga. The agrarian organization recalls that the Isla Baja is isolated, from the water point of view, since “this region does not reach water pipes from other areas, as the producers have been demanding.” In addition, the work of the regional treatment plant, which had a project, land and even a budget for its execution by the Insular Water Council, “It is paralyzed due to ideological issues from the previous municipal government team and neighborhood pressure, which is directly opposed to the installation of this much-needed infrastructure, not only for irrigation water, but to avoid discharges into the sea.”
A large part of the galleries and wells that supply Isla Baja produce “very poor quality” water, Asaga details, with very high electrical conductivities (high salt content) that “affect the development of the plantations, so they must be treated or mixed with others of better quality before putting them into service. And that Buenavista del Norte, Los Silos and Garachico, the municipalities of the Isla Baja, have “a great weight” in the agriculture of Tenerife, especially in the banana, very demanding in quantity and quality of water. The three municipalities have a banana area of 837 hectares, which represents 21% of the total banana crop in Tenerife.
The farmers propose, as an urgent measure, allocating part of the water from the golf course desalination plant to the population, which would free the La Monja desalination plant, both facilities in Buenavista, and allocate its production to meet the needs of irrigation exclusively, since at present part is destined to urban supply. Another solution would be the installation of portable desalination plants like those used in La Palma after the volcanic eruption.