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Uruguay: Farming sector booming in the north, despite adverse weather

The farming sector in north Uruguay "appears to be booming despite some very harmful adverse weather conditions, and has seen a growth in the acreage for planting, which in the case of protected crops has been sustained for about 10 years," affirmed Eduardo Tenca, rural coordinator at the municipality of Salto. Regarding open field crops, which are the ones most exposed to the weather, the acreage in 2012 is similar to that in 2011.

"Farms have difficulties in the north just like in the south, in concentration of production, for example, but lots of people are working very hard anyway, even young people," said Tenca.

It was recently announced by the Ministry of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries (MGAP) that protected crop planting this year is expected to be 10% higher than in 2011, as estimated by the Bureau of Economic Research in Agriculture (DIEA).

DIEA explained that this increase is due to the expansion in the acreage for tomatoes and strawberries, while the surface for red bell peppers will decrease slightly.

On another note, open field crop planting is expected to take 1,595 hectares, keeping the prevalence of the three main crops (sweet potato, onion and carrot), which take 71% of the total.

Regarding sweet potatoes, 565 hectares are expected to be planted, which would mean a 17% increase compared to last year's figures; the acreage for onions was estimated at 327 hectares, similar to last year's acreage, which was of 346 hectares. And for carrots, plans are for 233 hectares to be planted; fewer than in 2011 (294 hectares).

DIEA states that this part of the country was affected by strong rainfall, wind and even hail, which caused losses in protected and open field crops, with onions and carrots being most affected.

In this regard, Tenca said that the winter brought uncommon frosts that caused big damages to open field crops like strawberries and courgettes and slightly less severe to protected crops, such as tomatoes and red bell peppers, but later, between 7 and 9 October, there was an excess of rainfall, "of 400 to 450 mm in three days, which caused damages especially to carrots and onions."

2011 production cycle results

DIEA pointed out that the total acreage of protected crops for the 2011 production cycle was estimated at 403 hectares, with a total production volume coming very close to 42,000 tonnes.

Regarding open field crops, 1,433 hectares were planted with a total production of 20,000 tonnes. Sweet potatoes, onions and carrots took more than 80% of the acreage.

The area researched by DIEA includes the main agricultural regions of Artigas and Salto (Bella Unión, Tomás Gomensoro, Constitución, Belén and Salto).

Source: El Observador
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