WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Ecuador’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Aquaculture and Fisheries (MAGAP) on May 26, issued  aresolutiondeclaring a number of corn production areas under a state of emergency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) said in a June 8 report. 

Specifically, Resolution 114/2016 declares the Province of Guayas’ cantons of Empalme and Balzar under a state of emergency due to viral and fungus disease. The Los Rios cantons of Buena Fe, Palenque, Quevedo, Quinsaloma, Mocache, Valencia, and Vinces have also been placed under a state of emergency. Combined, these cantons account for roughly 65% of national corn production. The duration of the emergency has been set for a period of up to six months, effective May 26.

Sources indicate that the MAGAP will conduct a more thorough analysis of problems within the country’s corn sector. The Ministry reportedly will also implement emergency assistance programs to assist affected farmers.

Reportedly the virus types are maize dwarf mosaic virus (MDMV), maize chlorotic mottle virus (MCMV), and maize streak virus (MSV). Among the possible agents reportedly causing fungal disease are helminthosporium, diplodia, fusarium, and cercospora. Corn growers commented that the high prevalence of these phyto-sanitary problems was likely linked to 12 back-to-back planting campaigns over the past six years without the benefit of crop rotation. Since 2010, Ecuador has prioritized the strategic objective of obtaining corn self-sufficiency to protect itself from high international corn prices. Local farmers comment that the combination of government policies and industry incentives has encouraged them to pursue monoculture practices.

Corn producers indicate that their yields might drop around 60% in the affected areas. Total production at the national level may drop 25%-40% as a consequence. According topress reportsquoting the Minister of Agriculture, about 90% of Mocache’s corn harvest has been lost. FAS Quito forecasted Ecuador corn production in marketing year 2016-17 (May-April) at 1.16 million tonnes in March 2016 (GAIN Ecuador Grain & Feed Annual 2016). FAS will update its earlier production and trade forecasts in July once the current planting campaign ends. The reports states that with lower local corn production there might be an uptick in imports of feed wheat to compensate, with potentially some new corn imports towards the end of calendar year 2016.