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
Madagascar Has 1.1 Million People on Brink of Famine Due to a Prolonged Drought, UN Says
About 1.1 million people in the southern part of Madagascar face food insecurity as a prolonged drought and a sandstorm bring subsistence farming to a standstill, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization.
Without rains since December 2019, an increasing number of people are being pushed into famine. The 14,000 people currently in that situation could double by September, Volantiana Raharinaivo, a communications officer for the Antananarivo-based FAO office, said in a phone interview.
The three regions threatened by famine are Anosy, Androy and Atsimo-Andrefana, an area almost the size of New York State. Agriculture, livestock breeding and fishing are the most common activities in the area, which is prone to droughts and suffers from inadequate health and education services.
Courtesy of bloomberg.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
More forced power outages in Taiwan as demand spikes amid heatwave, drought
Taiwan imposed power cuts on Monday evening following a spike in demand amid a heatwave and drought and failure at a power plant, in the second such outage in a week, although far fewer homes were affected.
Power was restored by 1340 GMT, electricity provider Taipower said.
Taiwan, which major chip makers such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC) (2330.TW) call home, already imposed phased blackouts on Thursday following an outage at a plant in the southern city of Kaohsiung. read more
TSMC, which has factories across the island, said it had seen “no impact so far” from Monday’s power cuts.
Taipower said 660,000 homes were affected by the power cuts, fewer than the roughly 4 million affected last week.
Taipower blamed a rise in demand coincided with the suspension of some generators due to a technical failure at the southern Hsinta Power Plant, the same facility that caused the problem last week.
The state-own company said that the worst drought to hit the island in more than half a century meant electricity generated by hydropower plants was insufficient to meet the unexpected demand on Monday evening, a record high for May.
By 8:40 p.m., only 40% of the supply had been restored in the coal- and gas-fired power plant, Taipower said.
Taiwan’s cabinet offered an apology and urged citizens to stay safe.
Taiwan’s main opposition party, the Kuomintang, said the outages showed the government’s power policy was inadequate and called for Economy Minister Wang Mei-hua to step down.
Taiwan is currently experiencing an unusually hot May with temperatures in parts of the island peaking at around 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit).
Courtesy of reuters.com
Taiwan faces worst water shortage in 56 years: Sun Moon Lake turns into moonscape
Sun Moon Lake, an iconic tourist spot in Taiwan is turning into barren wasteland as the island is experiencing its worst water shortage crisis in 56 years due to months of scant rainfall and a lack of typhoons making landfall last year.
As the largest natural freshwater lake on the island, the water level of the lake has plunged by 12 meters, hitting a record low with some parts of the lake drying up completely. Netizens have been drawn to the drastically altered landscape, posting photos with densely bold cracks seen on the lakebed, with captions such as “Sailing on Land” and the “Sun Mook Lake Prairie.”
The management department of the lake has closed the park since April 1 due to safety concerns.
This is the worst drought Taiwan is facing in half a century and the reservoirs in central and southern Taiwan have nearly bottomed out. If the current drought continues, major water supply reservoirs in the island will only have enough water to last two more months, according to Taiwan officials.
On March 15, Taiwannews.com reported that the Zengwen Reservoir in Chiayi County was down to just 15.3 percent of its capacity, Liyutan Reservoir in Miaoli had plummeted to 13.7 percent, and Techi Reservoir in Deji Reservoir in Taichung was down to just 8.2 percent.
If Plum Rains are unable to replenish reservoirs in central Taiwan, a red alert will have to be issued in May, according to local reports.
Local newspapers reported that large water buckets are selling out and due to water-saving measures, many people have rushed to buy waterless clothes, clothes that can go weeks without being washed. Meanwhile, beauty salons and restaurants have said they simply can’t get enough water to meet their business needs as water trucks in the region are busy transporting industrial water to big tech companies that consume large amounts of water.
The island has stepped up nationwide water restrictions and some areas of Taichung, Miaoli, and Changhua have been subjected to a suspension of water supply two days per week on a rotational basis, affecting about one million people.
In response, Tsai Ing-wen, the regional leader of Taiwan, has called on residents to conserve water and set up an emergency response center to deal with the water shortage. But she was criticized for ignoring the warning of meteorologists who alerted the authority months ago that the island would face severe water shortage in the spring.
The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is also under attack due to their approaches to drought alleviation. For example, the irrigation department joined with a famous temple to pray to Mazu, the sea goddess, for rainfall. And the economic affairs ministry allowed companies to drill emergency wells in a technology hub to increase their water supply.
Both of the methods were criticized as “unscientific” as some warned the drilling could cause land subsidence or damage manufacturing equipment in the park and some doubted that groundwater levels are likely lower than usual due to the drought.
Courtesy of shine.cn
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
Wildfires and droughts devastate South American biodiversities
Under stress from a historic drought, large swathes of forest and wetlands in central South America known for their exceptional biodiversity have been ravaged by devastating fires.
Experts on Friday said wildfires in a region that spans Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay, especially the region between the Paraguay, Parana and Uruguay rivers, have become critical in 2020.
“There has been a dramatic increase in fires. In Argentina there has been an increase of around 170 percent, it’s very serious,” said Elisabeth Mohle, an environmental politics researcher at Argentina’s San Martin National University (UNSM).
She says it’s part of a wider problem affecting multiple regions around the world this year, including in Brazil’s Amazonas state, Australia, California, and the Gran Chaco, South America’s second largest forest after the Amazon.
The Pantanal, the world’s largest wetlands that span Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay, is experiencing its worst drought in 47 years.
The Parana river, one of the most powerful on the planet that originates in Brazil and empties into the River Plate estuary, is at its lowest level since 1970.
In August it was down to 80-centimetres in Rosario, eastern Argentina, rather than the usual 3-4 meters for that time of year.
It’s the same thing with the Paraguay river that is at its lowest level “in half a century,” according to Paraguay’s national weather center in Asuncion.
The fires are being fanned by ideal conditions, including strong winds, temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius and the dry season in which farmers use slash-and-burn techniques to try to regenerate the soil.
In Paraguay, “the fires … at the end of September and first week of October, broke all records,” Eduardo Mingo, a top official at the national weather center, told AFP.
The number of fires were up 46 percent in 2020, according to authorities.
Paraguay’s capital Asuncion and several towns in northeastern Argentina and southern Brazil spent days and even weeks submerged under a thick fog due to the intense fires.
And without the usual rainfall that moistens the soil, the wetlands have been particularly badly affected.
Images from the Brazilian Pantanal of the charred carcases of birds, snakes, caimans and trees have shocked the world.
A quarter of the area was devastated between January and September, while the Paraguayan Pantanal had already been badly affected by fires in 2019.
The Parana Delta that is home to species such as the jaguar, Pampas cat and several rodents, has been hit by fires of an unprecedented intensity since January, leaving a “desert of ashes” over tens of thousands of hectares of wetlands.
“Reptiles, migratory birds, small mammals and tortoises have died,” Cesar Massi, a naturalist in Argentina’s Santa Fe province, told AFP.
“I remember that during the last drought in 2008, there were fires. But this year they’ve been stronger, more intense and lasted longer.”
Agriculture is a massive source of income for the countries in this region but the slash-and-burn techniques used aggravate the situation.
In the north of Argentina “despite Covid-19 restrictions, between March 15 and September 30… twice the area of Buenos Aires was deforested,” according to Greenpeace.
The Mighty Earth NGO says that Paraguay’s dry forests are “one of the main sites of deforestation in the world, mostly due to the expansion of pastureland and more recently soyabean plantations.”
Argentina’s government has accused cattle farmers of setting fires to “increase pastureland area” in the Parana Delta.
One problem is that NGOs don’t have the necessary funding from governments to enforce rules and instigate large restoration or protection projects.
“The provincial government has less and less of a budget for prevention, there are no surveillance posts, the environmental police have been disassembled,” Alfredo Leytes, a member of the Ambiente en Lucha environmental collective based in Cordoba, Argentina, told AFP.
In Brazil “there has been a 58 percent decrease in ‘Brigadistas’ contracts,” said Alica Thuault from the Centro de Vida institute, referring to the volunteers that mobilized to tackle fires. She attributes blame firmly at the feet of President Jair Bolsonaro, a climate change skeptic.
Mohle wants different players, including farmers and ecologists, to work together “to regulate the use of land to ensure a more sustainable development than currently exists.”
Courtesy of trtworld.com
Hundreds of dead cattle due to drought and fires in Formosa, Argentina
The town of San Martín 2 is suffering the effects of the drought, in addition to human irresponsibility and strong winds.
The consequences: kilometers of burned fields were lamented, deaths of cattle and small livestock, as well as vehicles, fences and tools that were consumed by the fire.
The mayor of San Martín 2, Luis Rivero, from the Patiño department, commented that the fire that almost entered the downtown area could be contained thanks to the joint work between the police and the people.
Courtesy of elnueve.com.ar
Disaster declared due to extreme drought in Aroostook County, Maine, USA #Drought #AroostookCounty #Maine #USA
The federal government has declared Aroostook County a “drought disaster” area as the region faces a prolonged dry spell.
This summer was one of the driest on record for The County — which has been placed under a severe drought status known as D2 — brought on by low soil moisture, lack of rainfall, drying vegetation and low stream flows.
The designation is given to areas experiencing severe droughts for eight consecutive weeks or a higher level drought intensity value for any period of time. Water levels in Aroostook and Penobscot rivers reached an all-time low earlier this year, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The only other drought in Maine as severe as this was nearly 20 years ago — from 2001 to 2002.
“We have over 150 years of records at [the Penobscot water monitoring] location,” Nick Stasulis, the geological survey’s data section chief, told The Houlton Pioneer Times earlier this month. “So certainly that is a significant data set when you’re looking at the historical perspective.”
Due to the severe drought conditions, farmers in Aroostook, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Somerset and Washington counties are eligible for emergency assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency.
Farmers have eight months from the date of a disaster declaration to apply for emergency loans from the USDA. The Farm Service Agency considers the extent of production losses on the farm and the operator’s security and repayment ability in reviewing emergency loan applications.
These emergency loans can be used to restore or replace “essential property,” pay off production costs accrued during the disaster year, cover family living expenses, reorganize farming operations and refinance debts, the agency said.
Other services such as the Livestock Forage Program, Emergency Livestock Assistance Program, the Emergency Conservation Program and the Non-insurable Crop Assistance Program are also available to farmers in counties in a severe drought.
Farmers in need of hay for their livestock can use the University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Hay Directory, too.
The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry also encourages farmers to plan for future droughts by upgrading their water supplies and improving soil. Farmers should contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District or local Natural Resources Conservation Service for help with soil health practices.
Courtesy of bangordailynews.com
Extreme drought triggers water crisis in East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia #Drought #EastNusaTenggara #Indonesia
Five villages in Rote Ndao regency in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) are suffering from clean water shortages as a result of extreme drought. Deskiel Haning of the Rote Ndao Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) said the five villages were Holulai, Nentenaen, Meoain, Lifuleo and Pukuafu. They had experienced extreme drought for more than 60 days. “The water crisis has been ongoing since July,” he said on Tuesday, as quoted by kompas.com. The agency has been regularly distributing clean water to residents of the five villages in order to mitigate the water scarcity.
Authorities also urged villagers to only use clean water for drinking and bathing. “The clean water comes from tanks owned by the Rote Ndao BPBD and [an unidentified] third party,” said Deskiel. Several other villages in the regency have also requested Rote Ndao administration’s assistance in providing clean water. Deskiel went on to say that authorities were trying to fulfill those requests as soon as possible.
Courtesy of thejakartapost.com