LISBON (Reuters) – A severe drought spread across most of mainland Portugal in February, threatening crops and water supplies over a wider area than during the last record drought in 2005, the meteorological agency said. IPMA) this Monday.
The Minister of Agriculture, Maria do Céu Antunes, and her counterpart from neighboring Spain this Monday presented a set of proposals to the European Commission to face the situation, including financial support for farmers.
After the meeting in Brussels, Antunes told journalists that the Commission seemed ready to proceed with urgent measures.
The area of Portugal suffering from severe or extreme drought doubled in the first two weeks of February, covering 91% of its territory, according to IPMA.
At the same time in 2005 – when Portugal was fighting the worst drought in more than six decades – these conditions spread across 77% of the territory.
Environmental groups claim that droughts at the beginning of the year are no longer an anomaly in Portugal and should be seen in the context of climate change. In recent years, these periods of drought have often led to massive wildfires in the summer.
Temperatures are above average for this time of year and there is hardly any rain, which is putting pressure on water resources for agriculture and electricity generation, the agency said.
The Environment Ministry did not immediately respond to a request by Reuters for comment on what could be the next steps to combat the drought.
(Reporting by Catarina Demony)
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