March 20, 2009

Production down in parched Uruguay

Uruguay's acting Agriculture Minister Andres Berterreche estimated crop losses from several months of drought have topped $450 million.

The figure, revealed in a business meeting this week, represents about 1.5 percent of the country's gross domestic product, Mercopress reported Friday.

Economy Minister Alvaro Garcia said the final assessment of (drought) losses could be even higher, in part because Uruguay's primary energy supply is from domestic hydroelectric sources.

Without enough rain, the country turns to imported petroleum-based energy sources, the newspaper said.

The Agriculture Programming and Policy Office corn, soybean and fruit production was down 25 percent to 33 percent. Dairy production had dropped 18 percent. Sunflower, vegetable, sorghum and cattle breeding production was down between 10 percent and 18 percent, the office reported.