level of Lake Valencia could lower if its waters, even contaminated, irrigate
the sugarcane crops. As it has to go through an industrial process for sugar
production, there is no risk that the wastewater affects the end
is the cheapest option to save the lake. It is a strategic cultivation in
controlling the lake level because it is a high water consumption plant,"
explains Rafael Chirinos, an agronomist, former director of the Cane Growers
Society of Aragua (Socaragua).
since 2009, the production in the lake basin declined with a decree prohibiting
planting sugarcane in 53,000 ha (130,965.85 ac) between Aragua and Carabobo,
coupled with threats of farm expropriation that led several cane growers to
change fields. The decree was intended to use these lands to harvest other
foods, like tomato, onion and pepper, and include them in the “Soberania
Alimentaria” (Food Sovereignty) plan. According to experts, that was a serious
mistake because horticultural products cannot be irrigated with the wastewater
of Lake Valencia since they are direct consumption food and do not go through an
project was not executed. Three years later, in 2012, decree 8844 provided for
an article that required increasing the crops of high water consumption in the
basin of Lake Valencia. But no more sugarcane has been cultivated because there
are no resources to do it.
the case of Aragua lands located in the basin, the hectares for harvesting
decreased from 11,000 (27181.59 ac) to 3000 (7413.16 ac). As sugarcane
production declined, the lake level increased, becoming evident in 2011 and
2012, when another emergency occurred.
2011, since the levels of the lake had risen 3 m (9.84 ft) after the drop in
production, Socaragua proposed to the Ministry of Agriculture to plant 3100 ha
(7660.267 ac) of sugarcane within a 3-year period. They got no response. On
their own initiative, explains Chirinos, a group of sugarcane growers decided to
implement the plan, and they have planted 1000 new hectares on their own, but in
order to reach 3100 hectares they need a 5-million dollar support from the
and progressively, hundreds of hectares of sugarcane located in the basin of the
lake bordering with the state of Carabobo have been lost by rising water levels.
The most affected in this state, unlike Aragua, is precisely the agricultural
lands and the roads.
Montecristo, a farm in the municipality of Los Guayos, is an example. It went
from having 40 ha (98.84 ac) 20 years ago to only 2 ha (4.94 ac), because 38 ha
(93.90 ac) are under the waters of the lake. Two decades ago they were planting
40 hectares of sugarcane. But eight years ago, they were forced to change their
field because it is not profitable to grown low quantities of sugarcane, said
Carlos Delgado, in charge of the farm. It is a final tragedy. Even if a miracle
occurs and the water level decreases, farming will no longer be possible in these