While many Guanacaste ranchers look to the sky pleading for rain, others are taking the bull by the horns so that the drought doesn’t catch them by surprise. They plant grass, sugarcane, they have drip irrigation and rainwater collection systems.
While in one district of Nicoya we found weak, skinny cows, in others we saw well-fed cows with grass planted on the same property where the cattle graze. How is it possible that we found such different examples in the 185 square mile area that Nicoya is?
While specialists consulted for the front-page story in May’s edition agree that many ranchers don’t have the vision, money or the will to adapt to drier conditions, institutions, chambers and city halls don’t have any justification for not addressing the problem in a comprehensive fashion.
The way farmers adapt to change affects all of us in Guanacaste and in the country. Ranching is an important source of employment for the province and a way of life for many distant communities.
There’s another element on top of climate change. In 2025, the country will eliminate tariffs on milk imports as part of the CAFTA-DR free trade agreement with the United States. That means that producers are facing lower prices while at the same time experiencing increased costs because of unfavorable climate conditions.
Climate change and more intense droughts are a serious blow to the province since we already form part of Central America dry corridor. In Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala, the outlook is much more devastating than in Guanacaste, which is why specialists insist that we must watch and learn.
If big countries don’t make better decisions, zones like the dry corridor won’t have any other option than to adapt to change and be resilient. There’s no better way to do it than by learning from mistakes and consistently applying the good practices of those who are already implementing them.
Guanacaste needs to have a unified vision about its future and this edition is solid proof of that. Solutions in the province can’t sustain themselves with isolated efforts and experiments that have no relation to each other. They must be part of a vision of the province we seek to become.
Authorities need to encourage entrepreneurs and innovators who are already having an impact in their communities and come up with a way to reach those who are waiting for a miracle to save them.