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Horticultural product prices are expected to increase

Uruguay: Hail causes severe damage in Salto

Representatives of the seven guilds of horticultural producers of Salto estimate that nearly 300 of the 400 hectares with plantations were affected by the Monday's hailstorm. The time it would take to repair the greenhouses and replace their roofs would be too long to prevent the crops from being affected by the freezing weather.

"The hailstorm left 30 to 40 big-sized holes per square meter," stated Italo Tenca, a local representative to the National Farm Board.

Aquilles Mainardi, the president of the Horticultural Movement, said producers had no idea how they would protect their plantations of tomato, red pepper, zucchini, eggplant, chaucha, and strawberry, most of which are in full production.

"Mending the greenhouses is impossible due to the magnitude of the damage per square meter, and covering them with nylon would be cheaper but the plants would receive much less light at this time of the year," he said.

The producer also said that the damage was much greater than in October 2017, because of the cold weather there is now. "The production is at risk. It is an extremely complex situation where deadlines are shortened," he said.

He also said that it won't be easy to replace the destroyed roofs as flashing and specialized labor were scarce.

List 71 of the National Party announced yesterday that it would request, among other things, the declaration of a departmental emergency.

Estimated damages
Sources from the fruit and vegetable sector told El País that, last year, repairing the greenhouses from the damage caused by less severe storms had cost five million dollars. According to Italo Tenca, the current repairs would cost about $ 50,000 for every 1,000 square meters.

On the other hand, the sector is beginning to speculate about an increase in the price of fruits and vegetables due to the damages caused by the hail, as the pieces of ice that fell were bigger than a chicken egg.

Pablo Pacheco, an agronomist and coordinator of the Model Market Information Unit, said prices would increase because the next round of fruit and vegetables will be smaller. However, he said, it's still too soon to know what prices will increase or if they will remain high throughout the winter.

Three technicians from the Ministry of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries arrived to the area yesterday to begin a case-by-case survey of the damage in the fruit and vegetable area, especially in the citrus area, as there are farms in the south of the city that were affected amidst the harvest.

Uruguay's Institute of Meteorology requests a radiosonde and radars
After the mayor of Salto, Andres Lima, questioned the lack of official forecasts about the hailstorm, rain, and winds that hit Salto on Monday morning, the president of the Uruguayan Institute of Meteorology (Inumet), Madeleine Renom, said they were unable "to clearly determine where and when the hail, which is part of the system that is the storm, will fall."

She also said that they had sent a proposal to the Executive so that they could access this technology and to train technicians. The technology costs 12 million euro, but the Inumet still hasn't received a response from the national government.


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