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Uruguay: Hail caused near-total destruction of blueberries crops
Last Sunday's hail in Salto caused damage to more than 100 fruit and vegetable producers, some of which suffered total losses.
The victims who have insurance - which are the majority - are now conducting the corresponding procedures, while those who do not have insurance will get no special assistance as the government is already contributing to avoid these adversities through subsidies in the insurance, which in some cases reach 90% of its value.
Italo Tenca, a delegate of the northern producers at the National Board of the Farm (Junagra) of the Ministry of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries (MGAP), stated that the phenomenon affected Garibaldi and San Antonio, which are part of San Lorenzo, and in an area near the Salto Grande dam, which are areas located 8 to 15 km north of the departmental capital, towards the Arapey hot springs.
On Sunday morning it rained 40 mm in a few hours and it hailed in several areas of Salto and other departments. The localities were greatly damaged because of the big size of the hail that fell.
Serious damage to blueberries crops
The greatest damage occurred in two large fields with blueberries, which were almost totally destroyed, which created difficulties for producers and a high number of seasonal employees who will lose their income in a time of high demand for services, in full harvest. "At this time of the year, there are buses filled with people who will work on the blueberry harvest coming out of the city every day, so this damage is catastrophic," Tenca said.
The Gamorel company, which has a strong production activity and is the main exporter of blueberries in Uruguay, had losses of almost 100% because they don't have insurance, said Tenca, who added that this wasn't because of economic issues, but because no insurance company offered them protection as their production is very concentrated.
The damage was mainly to the fruit, but the trees also suffered some harm as the size of the hailstones broke some branches.
The storm also had an impact on the production of onions and on the late mandarins and orange trees.
The hailstones also pierced the nylon roofs in several greenhouses, especially of tomatoes and peppers.
Authorities still don't known exactly how many producers were affected, as many are in the process of reporting their losses, "but knowing these areas, there are a hundred with damage of varying relevance," said Tenca.
"There is a message that we trade union leaders have been continually spreading: there is insurance for these phenomena. If producers don't insure their crops they will have losses," Tenca said, adding that the insurance was accessible as it had a strong subsidy, which amounted to 90% for small producers.
"Some producers don't have insurance but it's not because they can't afford it," he added.
The government's position
Following the Council of Ministers that took place last Monday, MGAP under secretary Enzo Benech said that "the government reaffirms the importance of having agricultural insurance to safeguard the production in the face of adverse weather events such as in Salto."
He also stated that 800 hectares of 890 hectares open air productions in Salto had insurance and that 145 hectares of the 163 hectares greenhouse productions were also insured. "The condition for our support is that producers are insured," added Benech, who said that citrus growers with up to 20 hectares receive subsidies for up to 90% of the total of the policy; while those with 20 to 50 hectares received up to 70% subsidies; and the ones with a bigger acreage up to 35% for the first 50 hectares.
"If people are insured there are no problems, they only have to make the complaint to the Bank of Insurance, their loss is evaluated and the financial aid is automatically resolved," he said.
Publication date: 10/5/2017
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