13 Jan 2009

Uruguay declares drought emergency

8:41 am on 13 January 2009

Uruguay has declared emergency measures for farmers due to a serious drought in large areas of the country.

Livestock Minister Ernesto Agazzi said on Monday the government will provide farmers cattle feed with deferred, interest-free payments, aid for pumping water and extra time to pay their electricity bills.

He said the emergency covers 2.5 million hectares and was "going to last for a while".

Rainfall is at its lowest in three-decades in some parts of the country.

The government banned watering gardens, washing cars and filling swimming pools at the start of the year to try to conserve water.

The rainfall is the lowest since the 1960s or 1970s. It also affects crops soy, wheat and corn of Argentina.