Algeria’s cereal harvest set to fall due to drought
Grain importer Algeria expects its cereal production for 2020 to fall 35-40% from last year’s 5 million tonnes because of drought, the head of its farmers’ union told Reuters.
Algeria has in recent years harvested the bulk of its needs for durum wheat and barley while depending on imports of soft wheat, in large part from France.
“Output will drop by 35-40% due to drought,” the farmers’ union chief Mohamed Alioui said. “Drought has hit all provinces in the east and west, mainly those known for high production.”
Movement restrictions linked to the global pandemic contributed to production falling across the country, forcing farmers to revise down expectations, he said.
Lower output means the government will continue to turn to international markets to supply its 45 million people, he said.
Algeria spends around $1.3 billion annually on cereal imports, and wheat, considered a strategic crop, is subsidised.
The harvest is coming to an end in the southern provinces and will start in the north in the next few days, continuing until the end of August.
“We are disappointed. But we hope there will be abundant rain next season,” said farmer Ali Bakali as he visited his two-hectare wheat farm.
Drought hit most crops with farmers waiting for the government to make good on promises to improve irrigation systems.
“We have no other solutions but to find the solutions that allow us to cope with the drought and its impact on agriculture,” Agriculture Minister Abdelhamid Hamdani said last month as reported by state media. Only about 600,000 hectares of the 1.4 million that are irrigated are planted with cereals.
The government said it will offer incentives, including removing some administrative procedures, for farmers to grow cereals.
President Abdelmadjid Tebboune on Sunday called for a “revolution” in the production of grains and seeds, urging his government to increase durum wheat output and cut soft wheat imports by adopting modern methods and involving more agronomic engineers.
Courtesy of brecorder.com
California faces worst drought in decades: ‘Economic disaster’
After two consecutive dry years, the California drought is back.
How bad is it?
“This is the worst drought since 1977,” said Ernest Conant, the federal Bureau of Reclamation’s California regional director.
California melon farmer Joe Del Bosque called it “an economic disaster.”
“We can’t plant crops, we have no jobs, and there will be no food coming from this field this year,” he said.
Pictures and numbers tell the story. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 93% of California and the Southwest are in an extreme or exceptional drought, meaning mandatory cutbacks are not far away.
Two years ago, the figure was 3%. By the end of August, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration expects a persistent drought to extend to 13 Western states. Drought is a measure of precipitation, temperature, soil moisture and available water.
“I can see how bad it’s getting,” said Sean Black of Utah. “Just from the lakes that we’ve been going to and the stories that we’ve seen about how the low water level is. And for the shortage we have of snow. I know it’s going to be a tough year.”
More than 90% of Utah is suffering from drought. Nevada is worse at 95%, the worst in two decades. In neighboring California, there are mandatory cutbacks coming in Santa Clara County, no campfires or grilling in Lake Tahoe and officials near the Oregon border warned they could lose 88% of young Chinook salmon because of low stream levels and rising water temperatures.
In an effort to protect wildlife and protect water supplies for drinking, federal and state officials reduced water deliveries to farmers to near zero. In the Central Valley, fields lie fallow and farmers are dismantling orchards.
Courtesy of news.yahoo.com
Severe floods as Amazon rivers reach record highs in Brazil
The Rio Negro has swollen to levels unseen in over a century of record-keeping. More than 450,000 people have been affected state-wide.
Residents in Manaus, the biggest city in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, were struggling to cope with severe flooding after heavy rain caused nearby rivers to swell.
The Rio Negro reached its highest water level since records began in 1902, with a depth of 29.98 meters (98 feet) at the port’s measuring station on Tuesday.
The nearby Solimoes and Amazon rivers were also nearing all-time highs.
More than 24,000 families and 15 districts of Manaus have been affected and many people had to leave their homes, according to Brazilian online news site G1. Parts of the port area and the historic center of Manaus were underwater.
More than 9,000 meters of wooden bridges — known as marombas — were built in the hardest-hit areas to help residents navigate the city.
The high water levels are not just confined to Manaus. There has been flooding across almost all of Amazonas state and caused damage in nearly 60 of 62 municipalities.
More than 450,000 people have been affected state-wide.
The Amazon River also reached peak levels in cities including Itacoatiara, located in the east of the state.
Higher-than-usual precipitation is associated with the La Nina phenomenon when currents in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean affect global climate patterns.
Environmental experts and organizations including the US Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say there is strong evidence that human activity and global warming are altering the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, including La Nina.
Seven of the 10 biggest floods in the Amazon basin have occurred in the past 13 years, data from Brazil’s state-owned Geological Survey shows.
Meteorologists say Amazon water levels could continue to rise slightly until late June or July, when floods usually peak.
Courtesy of dw.com
Indian state estimates $1.4 billion damage from Cyclone
Cyclone Tauktae caused an estimated 100 billion Indian rupees ($1.4 billion) worth of damage in the Indian state of Gujarat after making landfall on May 17, Times of India reported. Agriculture, energy and housing sectors have recorded the highest losses. The cyclone affected states along the west coast of India.
Courtesy of businessinsurance.com
Tropical storm Chalane lands in Mozambique
A powerful tropical storm made landfall near the central Mozambique city of Beira early on Wednesday, bringing heavy rain and wind to an area devastated by Cyclone Idai nearly two years ago.
Beira, a low-lying coastal city of 500,000 people, is home to Mozambique’s second-largest port, which serves as a gateway to landlocked countries in the region.
The government had asked people living in the path of tropical storm Chalane and near rivers to move to safer areas.
Chalane had maximum sustained winds of 85 km/h with gusts exceeding 120 km/h, according to an update issued by the French weather service’s regional cyclone centre in La Reunion.
“The storm is now tracking inland through central Mozambique and is moving towards Zimbabwe. Government and humanitarian partners hope to begin evaluating the first impacts of the storm as soon as this afternoon,” Helvisney Cardoso, United Nations Mozambique Communications Specialist, said in a statement.
International aid agencies say that tens of thousands of people are still displaced from Idai and living in camps.
The Mozambican government was meeting to assess the impact of the storm and how it would respond.
In Zimbabwe, the government had started evacuating people from eastern parts of the country, where thousands were displaced by Cyclone Idai.
Zimbabwe’s Meteorological Services Department said there was high risk of flooding in the region.
Courtesy of in.reuters.com
Major Drought Disaster Areas Named in 17 More Counties in Nebraska, USA
More than a dozen Nebraska counties have been designated as disaster areas because of drought.
Over the past week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued disaster declarations for 17 counties, mostly in northeast and western Nebraska, the two areas where drought conditions have been the worst.
The counties designated as primary natural disaster areas were: Banner, Box Butte, Cheyenne, Deuel, Dundy, Garden, Hitchcock, Keith, Kimball, Madison, Morrill, Pierce, Perkins, Platte, Scotts Bluff, Sheridan and Wayne.
Lincoln saw one of its coldest Octobers ever
They join Colfax, Cuming, Dawes, Dodge, Stanton and Thurston counties, which were declared as disaster areas last month.
Counties with a disaster declaration are eligible for emergency loans for losses caused by drought, which can be used for purposes such as paying to replace equipment or livestock or refinancing debts.
That eligibility also extends to more than two dozen counties that are contiguous to the counties with disaster declarations.
6 Nebraska counties named disaster areas because of drought
Nebraska is seeing its worst drought conditions since 2013. As of Thursday, nearly 86% of the state was in some level of drought, with 12% — all in the Panhandle — in extreme drought.
Both severe and extreme drought can lead to lowered crop yields, scarce hay supplies and serious declines in groundwater levels.
The one thing the dry weather has helped with is harvest. As of Monday, the soybean harvest was essentially done in the state, while about 86% of corn had been harvested. That’s well ahead of the five-year average.
Drought tightens grip on Nebraska as hot, dry spell looms.
Courtesy of norfolkdailynews.com
Locusts Swarms Invade Warsheikh and Surrounding Areas in Somalia
Locust swarms have invaded Warsheikh and surrounding areas in the Middle Shabelle region, residents told Radio Dalsan.
The swarms have also invaded farmlands in Bakaaroole, Shiiqyaale, Ruunsheegow and the neighbouring regions and were spreading fast.
Locals said it was the first time the locusts arrived in the area, though they previously had its presence in other parts of the country.
This comes days after locusts swarms destroyed farms Balcad and other Middle Shabelle towns.
Courtesy of allafrica.com
Worst locust outbreak in 25 years in Ethiopia
At the end of a tough farming season, Ethiopian farmer Leila Mohammed was looking ready to harvest her millet crop with a sense of pride.
As she was drafting plans and calculating profits, she saw gigantic swarms of locusts like a cloud approaching the fields. All her efforts of waving a piece of cloth to beating steel plates to drive the swarm away failed. Within minutes all the hard labor of months and money she had invested to grow crops were ruined by little monsters.
Residing in Somali province, 50 kilometers (31 miles), north of the regional capital Jijjiga, Mohammed with his six children is looking at a bleak future and starving days ahead.
“They have destroyed my crop. I do not know what to do. We have lost food and battle against desert locusts,” she told Anadolu Agency.
She recalls that it was like a giant tornado flying high in the sky. Then they lost heights, starting descending and devastated crops.
The region has seen a second such attack from insects last weekend during the current farming season.
“Just last week, this area was sprayed with chemicals and the swarms got paralyzed. But look at them, they have come again to destroy whatever little had been left,” said Siba Aden Mohammed, a local official serving at Awbare district of Fafen zone.
While moving around, telling devastation is visible. Farms, where crops like millet, wheat, and chickpea were standing tall and awaiting harvest are empty, with farmers cursing their luck in desperation.
A vast blanket of dark brown winged insects has covered huge tracts of farmlands. As farmers try to remove them, they fly but soon return to sap the last grain of crop left in the field.
According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), since January, swarms of desert locusts have damaged over 200,000 hectares of cropland in Ethiopia affecting the food security of millions of people.
Courtesy of aa.com.tr
New locust plague threatens crops in Eastern Cape, South Africa
Farmers in the Eastern Cape have been fighting for survival because of the drought that has gripped the area for the past couple of years.
Now, they are fighting a new battle as a brown locust plague threatens their crops.
The brown locust outbreak has been reported in the Sarah Baartman and Chris Hani districts of the Eastern Cape.
According to the Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform in the Eastern Cape, about 127 farms have been struggling with it.
The department’s entomologist, Nolitha Skenjana, said: “The outbreak is in the Karoo parts of the Eastern Cape, where the insects are competing with livestock for grass. But if they are not controlled they might migrate to crops and vegetables.” She said spraying had started at the affected farms.
According to the department, the brown locust is an agricultural pest that attacks all types of crops, but prefers maize, grass and cereal.
Yesterday, Eben du Plessis of Agri Eastern Cape said it was still too early to say what the impact would be.
“They are moving east. They come from the Northern Cape and hatch at a drier area and start moving east. At this stage there’s not a lot of damage. Locusts go through about five stages of development and are currently walking. They hatch and find each other and create swarms. They do eat, but the damage is minimal.”
He said early detection was important in stopping the outbreak. “What’s nice about them walking now is you can spray them quicker because they aren’t moving fast. When they start flying through the day and with the predominantly north-west wind they move west with it up to 50km away.
“It becomes difficult to locate them. You have to wait for the weather to cool in the late afternoon, and as it gets darker they settle down for the night. That’s when you spray them.
“When they settle down they’ve doubled in size, are hungry and need more energy, and that’s when they do a lot of damage,” du Plessis said.
He said the provincial government’s efforts to spray the brown locusts were helping.
“This is a developing crisis. You can only see the impact once it’s done because they are hatching as they go. The maize is only getting planted now and is very small. The locusts have not hit the irrigation areas yet. In the last report they were about 40km away from the nearest irrigation scheme, between Middelburg and Steenberg.”
He said farmers couldn’t do much to protect their crops. “They can be vigilant and look out for locusts and report them to make sure they are sprayed. That is basically all they can do. In the past farmers have tried to burn tyres and old motor oil to create a barrier, but that’s not really effective.”
In September, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN warned that migratory locusts threatened the food security of around 7 million people in Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. They said one swarm can contain tens of millions of adult locusts, and there were multiple swarms in the southern region.
A single swarm can eat as much in one day as 2500 people, demolishing crops and livestock pasture in a matter of hours.
Courtesy of iol.co.za
Floods, landslides affect 3.6M people in E. Africa
At least 3.6 million people were affected by floods and landslides triggered by heavy rains across East Africa since June, the UN humanitarian agency said in a report Saturday.
“Water levels of several lakes in Kenya and Uganda are rising, impacting thousands of people,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.
Some 856,000 people were affected by floods in South Sudan since June, including roughly 400,000 who have been displaced, it said.
The floods compounded an already difficult situation for people across the region, many of whom were already faced with conflict, violence, the desert locusts and COVID-19.
In South Sudan’s Jonglei area, which witnessed devastating violence earlier this year, was among the areas which were badly hit by floods.
According to the report, about 1.1 million people in Ethiopia have been affected by floods, with more than 313,000 of them were displaced.
Meanwhile, in Kenya, the water levels of several Rift Valley lakes, especially Baringo and Naivasha “are historically high,” following the highest seasonal rains which pounded the area from October to December 2019, the UN agency said.
The area also received above-average rains in 2020, displacing thousands of people and impacting livelihoods, schools and health facilities, according to the UN.
Courtesy of aa.com.tr