by Staff Writers
Babahoyo, Ecuador (AFP) April 3, 2012
Thousands of poor Ecuadoran farmers are watching their livelihoods being washed away, hit by the worst rainfall in 14 years which has cost 24 lives and left a heart-breaking trail of damage.
"What the water gives, the water takes away," said elderly Francisco Barzola, sadly recounting how he has lost everything since the rains came at the start of the year.
"We are suffering with all this water that God has sent us, and which is now up to our necks," he said at his home in Los Compadres in the coastal province of Guayas, which stretches down to the Pacific Ocean.
And more misery is in sight, with the rains predicted to continue for another month in flooded coastal areas. Thousands of people have already been forced to flee, and 186 homes have been left waterlogged and uninhabitable.
Vast rural areas of the coast have been inundated, affecting some 80,000 people and the government has declared a state of emergency in Guayas, as well as in six other provinces.
"The water rose up to 1.2 meters (four feet) in rural areas and has caused incalculable damage," Ramon Gonzalez, mayor of the town of Calceta, told AFP.
The rising rain waters have now caused the worst flooding in Ecuador since the El Nino phenomenon left $4 billion in water damage in 1997-1998, the worst in South American history.
But this time it is not the heating effect of El Nino on the ocean surface which is causing the rain. Rather the current deluge is caused by a weather system bringing high humidity, weather experts said.
About 34,000 hectares of crops have been lost and another 9,000 hectares of rice and corn damaged.
"My chickens and ducks all drowned," said one woman who returned to her home in Salamina to protect it from thieves as the water lapped around her knees. "Families have lost everything, some more than $2,000 in small crops."
Nearby, a house was completely surrounded by water as if it were stranded on an island, abandoned by its occupants and protected by a religious picture placed over the doorway.
In Salamina, the school, church and a park were flooded by a green, stinking water now infested by mosquitoes. The local government has closed schools for the next two weeks because of water damage.
Some parts of the road to Babahoyo, capital of the province of Los Rios, are so flooded that motorized canoes are being used throughout the area to transport people and belongings to safety.
Some local residents are also trying to earn a few dollars by guiding vehicles through the flooded roadways.
Juan Romero, one of the residents, said: "I have had to herd the cattle by swimming or canoeing. There are places you can't get through even on horseback."
He was keeping watch over a pasture where vultures hovered over the carcasses of drowned calves. "I hope that it stops raining," he said.
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Poland to ban Monsanto's GM maize
Warsaw (AFP) April 4, 2012
Poland will impose a complete ban on growing the MON810 genetically modified strain of maize made by US company Monsanto on its territory, Agriculture Minister Marek Sawicki said Wednesday. "The decree is in the works. It introduces a complete ban on the MON810 strain of maize in Poland," Sawicki told reporters, adding that pollen of this strain could have a harmful effect on bees. On Ma ... read more
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