The National Agricultural Health Service predicts that in the coming months, coffee rust, anthrax, fruit flies, rodents, and locusts could emerge across the coast and Andean region of Peru. An expert explains the potential consequences.
LIMA – The National Agricultural Health Service (Senasa), an entity attached to the Ministry of Agrarian Development and Irrigation of Peru, recently indicated that the South American country could experience about five pests in the coming months that would affect the entire coastal strip and the Andean region as a result of the arrival of the Global Niño phenomenon.
Typically, a pest is considered an excessive and harmful proliferation of living organisms that affect health, the environment, and people’s well-being. In this case, Peru would experience the pests of yellow rust, anthrax, fruit flies, rodents, and locusts that would threaten the production of livestock areas and the crops of farmers in the country’s interior regions.
“The rains and the increase in temperatures, which will occur with the arrival of the Global Niño phenomenon, will activate the development of these pests,” said Miguel Quevedo, head of Senasa, to the press.
The official mentioned the points where each plague would expand. According to Quevedo, yellow rust, a fungus that appears in line forms and especially attacks coffee crops, would harm the regions of Junín, Pasco, Cajamarca, Amazonas, San Martín, Puno, and Cusco because these are regions where coffee is largely produced and coffee crops abound. Anthrax, a bacterium that can remain in the soil and contaminate animals that will later be consumed by humans, would spread to the livestock areas of the Lurín valley in Lima and southern Peru.
According to public health expert Marco Almeri, this is because in these areas “there are spores that produce fungi and wait for climatic changes – such as humidity, rains, and high temperatures – to arrive so they can bloom”. Almeri also added that these cases have been reported in the past in the Lurín valley.
The fruit fly would do the same from Tacna to Piura and would affect the trade of fruits such as apples, bananas, grapes, among others. This is mainly because “the temperature that we are going to have on the Coast will cause the fruit ripening process, which is between five to seven days, to shorten to two or three days and a putrefaction process will occur. This will cause the fruit fly to perceive the smell and travel long distances to reach the houses of the inhabitants and even the crops themselves,” explained the public health expert.
In the case of rodents and locusts, they would be found in larger quantities in northern cities such as Piura, Lambayeque, and La Libertad because “it has been reported that these species exist there and climate change will favor their incubation and reproduction process,” said Almeri.
Almeri also added that rodents will also be present in the mentioned regions because “the rains are going to cause an increase in grass and herbaceous vegetation that they [the rodents] eat. Having more food they can reproduce more and transmit diseases to other animals through their urine and fleas.
The Global Niño The five pests of anthrax, fruit fly, rodents, and locusts – which will sprout as a result of the arrival of the Global Niño – will cause an increase in vector-borne diseases (mosquitoes, ticks, flies, fleas, and lice) that would then result in dengue, chikungunya, and eventually malaria, according to former Health Minister Víctor Zamora.
“We are a country that has these diseases, but if conditions are better for vectors, then they will increase,” he noted. The expert added that due to the collapse of sewers and floods that the climatic event will cause, it will also cause the spread of diseases associated with rodents such as leptospirosis, which is transmitted by the urine of infected animals.
“We have already had an outbreak of leptospirosis in the first half of the year, little diagnosed because we have focused on dengue. There will be places where there will be massive losses of crops and, therefore, the rats will go out to look for food,” he assured.
Zamora also warned that children and women would also be vulnerable populations to the eventual diseases that come out of the Global Niño.
“We are going to have an increase in diarrheal diseases, in all ages, but especially in our children because they are not going to have safe water and basic sanitation conditions are going to deteriorate. The Niño phenomenon is also accompanied by cold weather, and we are experiencing it, there will be an increase in acute respiratory infections,” he explained.
The expert specified that many women will be exposed, as they often have to cross places that are flooded. “There will be an increase in diseases, basically of the urinary and genitourinary tract among this population group,” he added.
The government of Dina Boluarte declared 873 districts nationwide in emergency due to the arrival of the Global Niño and the pests that will appear. In addition, they announced that the different ministries of Housing, Transport, and Agrarian Development and Irrigation will move to the regions to work with local governments in order to guarantee the supply of water, the elimination of blind basins, the construction and reinforcement of temporary bridges, and the relocation of inhabitants near the basins.
The public health expert questioned that the government has not yet revealed the measures to be implemented to counteract the pests and the consequences it will have in the future. “We have not seen any plan on the table that is specifically aimed at vector control, safe water, safe shelters, and also provision of food for populations that will quickly lose access to water,” he concluded.