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Mainland Portugal in extreme drought

Portugal’s drought has worsened, with a recent report by the Drought Monitoring Centre of the Institute of Meteorology placing more than half of the mainland in a situation of extreme drought (53%) and the remainder in severe drought, the two highest levels.

According to the centre, the percentage of water in the soil, which measures the capacity of water usable by plants, is in some cases lower than 50% throughout the country and, in some areas in the south, less than 40%.

This is due to the absence of any significant rainfall in almost all of Portugal during the first fortnight of March, which registered on average 5.7mm of precipitation.

In its latest drought report, the Meteorological Institute admits that the severity of the drought is not likely to reduce in the next couple of weeks.

The Drought Monitoring Centre will be releasing a new update on the drought situation at the end of the month.

Minister for Agriculture and the Environment, Assunção Cristas, said she had sent a “formal letter” to Brussels on March 7 informing the agriculture commissioner of the impact of the drought on the agricultural industry in Portugal in the last few months and requesting that measures are taken to aid the country’s farmers.

Roger Waite, spokesman for agriculture and rural development, had said recently that the European Commission was keeping in contact with the Portuguese authorities over this matter.

Meanwhile, €50 million has been made available by the Portuguese government to help animal farmers who have been seriously affected by the drought.