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Organic Consumers Association

Mexico Now Enduring Worst Drought in Years

MEXICO CITY - As the end of the four-month rainy season approaches here in Mexico City, it has finally begun to rain. But the daily downpours, which have overwhelmed the city's drainage network and flooded subway stations, arrived too late.

Mexico is enduring its worst drought in six decades. Crops are drying up in the fields and water is being rationed in the capital. Residents of poor neighborhoods have hijacked water trucks, and there are other signs of social tensions building.

El Niño, a weather pattern that warms water in the Pacific Ocean and leads to changing weather around the Pacific Basin, is causing the drought, Mexican officials say.

The rainy season typically begins here in June. Rain falls almost daily in most of the country, irrigating the spring planting and filling reservoirs before the dry months. But this year, the first three months of the rainy season were dry. Officials warned that the reservoirs were falling to dangerously low levels.

Some of Mexico's neighbors have been grappling with similar problems. Guatemala declared "a state of calamity" last week, because the drought has caused shortages of staples like corn and beans. The government plans to deliver food packages to 400,000 families, Reuters reported.

In Mexico, almost 40 percent of the farm land inspected by the government has been affected by the drought, causing shortfalls in the harvests of corn, beans, wheat and sorghum. The Mexican government is spending more than $100 million to buy emergency crop insurance and to dispense direct aid to farmers.  

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