Government brings forward financial support
It didn’t take long for the government to rethink its decision yesterday to “evaluate the situation on the ground” before deciding measures of support for Odemira’s wildfire victims.
This afternoon, as the fire is still technically in the resolution phase, agriculture minister Maria do Céu Antunes announced financial support for farmers/ producers who have been left with nothing with which to feed their animals will be given straight away.
This support will be available to farmers in the boroughs of Odemira, Aljezur and Monchique – the three municipalities affected by the fire that began last Saturday afternoon and devastated over 8,400 hectares.
Said the minister: “We are going to give immediate support for the acquisition of feed for animals. It will be financial support given per head”.
Ms Antunes made her announcement following a meeting today with farmers/ producers, at the parish council of Odeceixe – the Aljezur parish that was encircled by flames at points during this last dramatic week.
The minister completely understood what she admitted was a “devastating scenario”, saying the major problem for farmers is the lack of feed, as “all pasture and fodder burnt in the fire”.
“We will give a (monetary) value per animal” which has been calculated “on the basis of what the animal eats, and we will add, in relation to values previously attributed+, a factor for inflation”, she said.
What this boils down to is farmers receiving aid of up to €38 per head of cattle, €25-28 per sheep/ goats.
So far, authorities understand that around 10 cattle farmers suffered fire damages, meaning feed has to be bought for around 300 cows and 40 sheep/ goats
“We have also added (aid for) the beekeeping sector, already affected by the drought and now by the fire” said the minister – not however specifying the scope, or even type, of aid.
Maria do Céu Antunes said that she intends to sign the order providing for this support today, assuming that the process “will be very fast” and that “in the next few days this money will reach farmers”.
Asked by journalists if the process will be bureaucratic, the minister replied that farmers will only need to “fill out a form”.
“We feel from the farmers that this is a precious help and it must come as soon as possible”, she added.
A second support measure will come at the end of the fire season (mid-October), with funds being made available from the Rural Development Programme (RDP), to support farmers who have lost infrastructure in the blazes.
Before the meeting, Maria do Céu Antunes visited two farms that suffered damages, one in São Miguel (Odemira) and the other in Odeceixe (Aljezur), to talk to the owners and learn about their difficulties.
“When we reach areas of this territory where there is agricultural production, water and green crops, the fires stop”, so “we need to work on this dimension and we will do so in an integrated perspective, next”, she added, hinting towards a change in prevention strategies in future.
The fire, which started in Baiona mid-afternoon last Saturday, is still in the final stages due to “hot spots”, that “still prompt concern”, according to a source from Civil Protection.
The ANEPC (National Emergency and Civil Protection Authority) website shows that at 3pm today, 721 firefighters, supported by 242 vehicles and three water-carrying aircraft were still working at bringing this incident to a conclusion.
From further down the coast, on holiday, President Marcelo has stressed it is absolutely necessary to respond quickly to “such great devastation”.
Source: SIC Notícias