LAST_UPDATESun, 18 Mar 2018 9pm

Uruguay Extends Agricultural State Of Emergency Due To Drought

MONTEVIDEO -- Uruguay has extended an agricultural state of emergency due to a prolonged drought to more regions, reported China's Xinhua news agency.

Agriculture Minister Enzo Benech who announced this on Tuesday, said the decision was aimed at helping small cattle ranchers and dairy farmers to overcome the severe dry spell.

"The country's agricultural heartland is affected," said Benech, adding the 90-day emergency will allow producers to access soft loans to purchase emergency rations to feed cattle.

On Feb. 28, the ministry declared a state of emergency mainly in central north and middle areas of the country, which include departments such as Tacuarembo, Artigas, Rivera, Salto and Durazno. The emergency is now also extended to cover departments in eastern and southern regions such as Cerro Largo, and Flores, as well as parts of the departments in western Uruguay.

"The dry spell in the central north of the country has gotten bigger," said Benech.

Meanwhile, the Uruguayan Meteorological Institute (INUMET) reported that from December 2017 to February 2018 "rainfall was below normal throughout the country," dropping 30 percent in most parts and a more than 60-percent reduction in the north.

Rainfall below average is expected to affect the north through May. Agricultural goods account for 70 percent of Uruguay's exports, according to official figures.