INTRODUCTION: Portugal's worst drought for 30 years has virtually wiped out the country's rice and wheat crop.
GV ZOOM OUT TO WS Town of Leiria.
SV Withered trees PULL OUT TO GV PAN ACROSS arid land TO more dying trees. (2 SHOTS)
GV Procession through streets with people praying for rain. (2 SHOTS)
GV Statue of Our Lady of Incarnation being carried through streets. (2 SHOTS)
GV Statue being carried towards Leiria's main church PAN UP facade of church.
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Background: INTRODUCTION: Portugal's worst drought for 30 years has virtually wiped out the country's rice and wheat crop. The Portuguese Agriculture Minister, Antonio Cardosa e Cunha, said on Monday (16 February) the country would have to rely on massive imports to satisfy internal demand. And he said the government would probably have to appeal for international aid.
SYNOPSIS: The worst effect of the drought has been on cattle, and farmers may have to resort to mass slaughtering in the months ahead. The traditional rice growing areas of central and southern Portugal will have to be turned into pasture this year. Mr. Cardosa e Cunha says even if there's rain before the spring sowing season there will not be enough water to irrigate the paddy fields. The rice and wheat harvest is already lost.
At Leiria, in central Portugal, local priests organised a procession on Sunday (15 February), to offer special prayers for rain. The Statue of Our Lady of the Incarnation was carried through the streets -- a religious tradition only observed during times of national calamity.
Portugal's electricity supplies are also threatened by the drought. Hydro-electricity normally provides 60 percent of the national consumption, but reservoirs are now dangerously low. The government's called on industry to drastically cut its electricity consumption.
The government is now importing a quarter of its electricity needs from France and the cost is high. In years when Portugal has suffered from low rainfall it's been able to rent electricity from Spain, but that country too is suffering a severe drought. So the Portuguese people are hoping their prayers for rain will soon be answered.