The funds available for dealing with natural disasters will be increased dramatically next year as Mexico experiences its worst drought in 70 years, the Agriculture Secretariat said.

The Natural Disaster Management Program will have a budget of 3.14 billion pesos (about $226 million) in 2012, marking an increase of 185 percent relative to this year, the secretariat said.

Agriculture Secretariat officials said during a meeting Tuesday of the Mexican Council for Sustainable Rural Development, or CMDRS, an organization of farmers, grassroots groups and legislators, that the government planned to allocate 16.93 billion pesos ($1.21 billion) for the Disaster Prevention and Management Program next year.

The program provides income support, marketing assistance, insurance and other aid to those affected by natural disasters.

Mexico is experiencing its worst drought since 1941, with 2.5 million people left without water, the Social Development Secretariat said.

The states most affected by the drought are Coahuila, Chihuahua, Durango, San Luis Potosi and Zacatecas.

Fourteen other states - Aguascalientes, Guanajuato, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Mexico, Michoacan, Nayarit, Nuevo Leon, Queretaro, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tamaulipas, Veracruz and Yucatan - are also experiencing drought-related problems.

More than 42,000 head of cattle died in Mexico due to the drought between Jan. 1 and Nov. 13, according to government figures.

The National Peasants Confederation, however, contends that about 450,000 head of cattle have been lost in the drought.

Some 963,000 hectares (2.37 million acres) of different types of crops were lost to the drought and freezes during the same period, the Agriculture Secretariat said.

The federal government has provided insurance for 8.1 million hectares (20 million acres) and 4.2 million animals, officials said.

The insurance programs, for example, make the owners of 3 million animals eligible to receive food supplements.

The government has provided 776 million pesos (about $57 million) in insurance protection to ranchers this year and distributed food supplements for 1.8 million animals, the Agriculture Secretariat said in a report released earlier this month.