900 million pesetas losses.

The lack of rain this year has cost the Balearic agricultural community over £4 million, production has dropped by as much as 80 per cent in some areas and the long term forecasts are not good. The Secretary General of the Balearic agricultural organisation ASAJA, Gabriel Company, announced the losses yesterday, explaining that grain production has been hit the hardest and that, despite the level of water in Majorca's reservoirs being higher than last year, rain fall over the winter has been insufficient. Company said that grain harvest has been “minimal and of poor quality”. The biggest victim has been the farming heartland of Majorca, the Pla de Mallorca, where production is currently down by 40 per cent. Other main farming areas such as Llucmajor, Campos, Santanyí and Ses Salines are producing a mere 20 per cent of their full potential. Company was quick to point out that the figures are “provisional and that the situation could get worse, depending on the weather”. But while the behaviour of the weather is beyond the farmers' control, Company criticised agricultural insurance companies, claiming that the policies “hardly cover any of the losses incurred”. He also pointed the finger at the Balearic Minister for Agriculture. “He has not done anything at a political level to help,” he said. Company believes that the Balearic government should be lobbying central government in Madrid for a better deal for the islands' farming industry. The Sa Pobla potato crop, for which its biggest market is the United Kingdom has also suffered this year, but with the water authorities having announced that there will be enough water for human consumption this summer, the farmers appear to have been forgotten. Last summer, when the worst drought for 100 years in the Balearics reached its peak, the agricultural industry was brought to a near halt and while financial aid helped to ease the pain last year, Balearic farmers have been fighting a losing battle against the drought for the past ten years. This time last year farmers were counting the costs of flash heavy rains and hail storms which destroyed crops before the drought took hold. A year on, the first five months of the year have been warmer and drier.


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