MONTEVIDEO – Uruguay’s government declared on Wednesday an agricultural emergency in the drought-stricken northern part of the country and activated the Agricultural Emergency Fund (FAE), which provides no-interest loans to family farmers.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock Farming and Fishing said that the loans will benefit roughly 2,200 livestock and dairy operations.
The 90-day emergency includes parts of the provinces of Artigas, Salto, Paysandu, Rivera, Tacuarembo, Rio Negro and Durazno.
Also through the FAE, the government will supply farmers with soy to feed their livestock.
“We will start the operation tomorrow (Thursday),” ministry official Ricardo Teixeira said during a press conference.
FAE loans will be extended to those who register through rural and farmers’ organizations and who do not have any pending arrears with the ministry for previous borrowing.
To be eligible, a farmer can have no more than 500 hectares (1,235.5 acres) of land.
Borrowers will be able to pay back the loan in two installments, in July 2019 and July 2020.
In the absence of rain, the government must use “every tool” at its disposal to address the shortage of water, Agriculture Minister Enzo Benech said.