April 19, 2007
Praying for rain
Australia is suffering from its worst drought on record, and the lack of rainfall has already severely reduced the production of major irrigated crops in the Murray-Darling river basin.
The basin, which covers an area the size of France and Spain combined, accounts for 41% of Australian agriculture and usually provides about 85% of the nation's irrigation supply.
"If it doesn't rain in sufficient volume over the next six to eight weeks, there will be no water allocations for irrigation purposes in the basin" until May 2008, Mr Howard told reporters in Canberra.
"It is a grim situation, and there is no point in pretending to Australia otherwise," he said. "We must all hope and pray there is rain."