Government Sees $45 Million Damage From Drought

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–A continuing severe drought–accompanied by an unusually hot weather–has inflicted an estimated $45 million worth of damages on Armenia’s agricultural sector and threatens to cause further negative consequences–government officials said on Friday.

"According to our tentative estimates–the overall damage exceeds 45 million US dollars," Deputy Minister of Agriculture Samvel Kloyan told an emergency meeting at the ministry. The government will ask the United Nations Food Program and the World Agricultural Organization to provide assistance to Armenian farmers hit hard by the drought–he said.

None of the country’s ten provinces has been left unaffected by the continuous absence of rains–with rural areas that grow mainly potatoes and cereals and are not under irrigation bearing the brunt of it–the meeting was told. In some areas 60 percent of crops have been totally destroyed.

The drought has led to water shortages in reservoirs feeding irrigation systems across the country. The worse-than-usual harvest has already pushed up prices of domestic agricultural products.

The drought–which has also hit neighboring Iran and Georgia–comes amid unprecedented high day-time temperatures of air hovering around 40 degrees Celsius for the whole of July and the first days of August. "Such a long period of hot weather has not been recorded since in the last 130 years," said Gennady Kodoyan–Armenia’s chief meteorologist.


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