How is community life affected by Turrialba?

Intermittent eruptions, sometimes violent, in recent months have put Volcano Turrialba in focus.

Situated in Cartago Province, some 36 kilometers northeast of the capital city San Jose, Turrialba is ranked as the second largest volcano in the country.

Its ash fall keeps affecting thousands of livestock and hundreds of hectares of crops in nearby communities, as revealed by the data from the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG) and the National Animal Health Service (SENASA).

(Soundbite) JUAN MANUEL COTERA, Agronomist
“Cows and all ruminants have 4 stomachs. The food goes into the third stomach. The third stomach is shaped much like a glass, which goes above and also comes out on top. Then it is filled with ash. Over time, it becomes saturated and there comes a time the animals collapse.”

Milk production has been lowered, as cattle eat less and become weaker.

Meanwhile, there is a same tragedy for sheep, though they are different from cows.

(Soundbite) JUAN MANUEL COTERA, Agronomist
“Sheep unlike cows have a different way of eating. Cows lick off the grass with tongues, while sheep bite the grass, together with the ash on the grass. It is like sandpaper to teeth. If too much ash is eaten, they can lose teeth in around eight months and die of hunger and malnutrition.”

In case of catching respiratory or digestive diseases, livestock are recommended to stay indoors.
But for crops and flowers, indoors is obviously a choice, and there is also double-side sadness: loss of vitality and economic turnout.

(Soundbite) JUAN MANUEL COTERA, Agronomist
“If Calas or Hydrangeas have any stain, they are not suitable for export. Accumulating ash withers petals or flowers. It creates an acid stain that becomes translucent in flowers. Or worse, it leaves the stain without being detected, thus affecting the entire shipment of flowers destined for or already in the United States.”

When the surroundings and their animals and plants are threatened, the people living around have enough reason to panic over their own livelihood and even lives.

(Soundbite) MORA ISAMAEL CARVAJAL, Cheese Producer
“There is a clear fear. I have lived here for years. The volcano is a very serious thing. It is too dangerous.”

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