40 days and 40 nights

July 31, 2018

Isn’t that 40 days and 40 nights supposed to include rain??

It has been the opposite here.

Most people plant their corn when the rainy season traditionally begins about mid-May.  And there has been little to no rain.  At this point, the crops are totally stunted and dried and will not produce anything.

In the meantime, people have spent money on seed, fertilizer – because even those who receive fertilizer from their partner churches still need to purchase some.  It takes about 4 bags per manzana (1.7 acres) They purchase insecticide, herbicide and spend lots of time under the hot sun clearing and preparing the field, planting each seed by hand on the steep hills and applying the fertilizer, insecticides and herbicides by hand and usually without protective clothing.

It is a labor of love that is necessary because from the harvest comes their main food staple for the year: corn.  Corn for tortillas which are consumed at every meal.    Sometimes that IS the meal.  If they have a bumper crop, they can sell some periodically to purchase things they cannot grow: shoes, school supplies, cooking oil, etc.

So now they have no hope for a harvest.  For everyone we’ve talked to – and that is quite a few! – there is a loss between 90%-100%.  Most families have lost 100%.  You will see the damage that is the result of a lack of water in the photos below.  The corn should be taller than a person by now and their leaves lush with ears mostly filled out.  There are some areas we have driven by that the corn is not even knee high.  Some areas where the stalks are tall but hardly any leaves and no ear.  Some areas have nice tall stalks with full leaves but either stunted ears or non-existent ears.

Sadder still, even if the rains came today and fell perfectly, it is too late.

Some people didn’t bother to plant – or were waiting till the rains began.  They are the somewhat lucky ones.  They still have their seed and fertilizer.

People can potentially do a second planting in August.  IF they have the resources.  The problem with that August planting is that it typically doesn’t produce as much.  Also – people plant their beans in August/September because the beans use the corn stalks to climb and grow.  The stalks help keep the beans off the wet ground so they don’t get moldy.  The corn stalks from an August planting will not be big enough to handle the beans.

So basically, no corn.  And no beans.

People are really worried.

Sometimes delegations joke about having tortillas and beans at (almost literally) every meal.  We know that every country has its customs and traditions.  But here in El Salvador … if there are no tortillas and beans on the plate … it is possible there will be nothing else.

20180731_121216
Totally dry ground – stalks brown prematurely.  No ears.

20180731_120827

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This field looks pretty decent.  Until you look closely.  If there IS an ear, it is skinny and will have nothing edible inside the husk.  
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Parched.  
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Even worse.
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These should be totally lush and green with almost fully developed ears.  They are only about 4 feet tall.  

 

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You can see an ear there but it is under-developed.  Looking in the background, some folks didn’t even plant.  They might just be the lucky ones.
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These were about 2 feet tall.  Obviously lacking.
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Again, about 2 feet tall.  They won’t grow any more.
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Several fields not planted.

 

 

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