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Brazil farmers battle worst drought in 80 years

Saturday, January 31, 2015 - 02:07

Agricultural producers in Rio de Janeiro state battle with the worst drought Brazil has seen in 80 years which is killing large numbers of livestock and crops. Nathan Frandino reports.

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On a farm in Rio de Janeiro state, healthy green cornstalks are disappearing. Brazil's worst drought in 80 years is destroying crops and decimating the livelihood of agricultural producers. Corn farmer Sebastiao Fernandes do Amaral says he's turning to God for help. (SOUNDBITE) (Portuguese) CORN FARMER, SEBASTIAO FERNANDES DO AMARAL, SAYING: "This is the first time it has been like this. We've had droughts in the region before, but nothing like this. This is the first drought we've had here which has been really very difficult. We don't have water for the plants. It is very difficult, but I have faith in God that it's going to get better." The dry conditions have caused the Muriae River to drop to its lowest levels in 60 years. But help could come soon -- in the form of an 8.5 million dollar emergency fund. It's expected to help thousands of small farmers. The Secretary of Agriculture of the Italva Municipality, Elivelton Soares Cordeiro, says the relief couldn't come soon enough. (SOUNDBITE) (Portuguese) SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE FOR ITALVA, ELIVELTON SOARES CORDEIRO, SAYING: "We need trucks with water pipes, to help with the supply and consumption of water, and machines to help to clean the wells so that we can recuperate some water sources so that we can look after the livestock and maintain agricultural production." The region's livestock is also taking a beating. Dairy farmer Doralico Florindo Pereira says the drought has cut his production rates in half. (SOUNDBITE) (Portuguese) MILK PRODUCER, DORALICO FLORINDO PEREIRA, SAYING: "When things were going well we were producing up to 400 liters of milk. Now we are producing around 200 liters, and the amount is decreasing. Then we have to think about feeding the animals, and production is going to fall even further." Pereira has already put his livestock up for sale. He says he'd rather sell his animals than see them suffer from hunger and thirst.

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Brazil farmers battle worst drought in 80 years

Saturday, January 31, 2015 - 02:07