Global food supplies slammed by drought, floods & frost; UN 

By Arya M Nair, Intern Reporter
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World Food Sources
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Natural disasters triggered by sudden climate change are causing havoc on crops around the world, raising the risk of increased food inflation at a time when prices are already approaching their highest in a decade and hunger is on the rise, according to the UN.

Young coffee trees at the world’s largest grower with prices surging 17 percent in the week and topping $2 a pound for the first time since 2014 were killed by the severe frost in Brazil in two decades. 

Flooding in China’s key pork-producing area flooded farms, raising the risk of animal disease. Crops on both sides of the US-Canada border were devastated by scorching heat and drought. In Europe, excessive rain raised the risk of fungal diseases in crops and caused tractors to halt in flooded fields.

Climate change and its related weather instability would make it increasingly difficult to produce enough food for the world, with the poorest countries often bearing the brunt of the consequences, as experts have warned for years.

Agnes Kalibata
Ms. Agnes Kalibata
Former Agro-Minister
Rwanda

“Things that are happening in one part of the world end up impacting all of us. We’ve underestimated as a world is just how frequently weather would start to have serious impacts. Some communities are already living through the nightmares of climate change.” 

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization’s Food Price Index surged for 12 months in a row through May before dropping in June to 124.6 points, still up 34 percent from the last year. The index is based on the international price of a basket of food products.

Brazil’s Frost

Brazil Frost
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The severe frost that ravaged major arabica-coffee areas in Brazil is especially deadly for young trees, which could create greater losses for farmers and hurt production for years. Brazil is the world’s biggest shipper of sugar and orange juice and a key producer of corn and soybeans. It accounts for about 40 percent of the world’s harvest for arabica coffee, the smooth variety that shows up in your Starbucks cup. There’s no other country in the world that has that kind of influence on the world market conditions and what happening in Brazil has affected everyone.

Dry North America

Drought NA
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Hundreds of wildfires flared in Canada due to dry conditions and record-breaking heat, with blazes sweeping five provinces to the east. Drought is also wilting crops in Canada’s breadbasket Prairie provinces and the northern United States, pushing farmers to wrap up low-yielding wheat and barley stems for sale as livestock fodder.

Flooded China

China Flood
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Flooding in Henan, a hub for agricultural and food production in central China, appears to be contained for the time being, but it is being constantly monitored for any signs of more major disruption. A greater concern is the spread of animal diseases such as African swine fever, which China has been battling since a deadly outbreak in 2018 that wiped out nearly half of its hog population.

Soggy Europe

Soggy Europe
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Rain has wreaked havoc on crops, causing harvest delays. This comes after a spring of frosts that damaged crops ranging from sugar beets to fruit trees, as well as destroying some vineyards in France. While European wheat output is predicted to rise this year, a portion of the crop may be shifted from milling for bread products and instead fed to farm animals.

As global hunger and health were barely surviving the COVID-19 epidemic the terrible calamities ruined everything that was left. The risk of malnutrition and sickness will rise faster than anticipated as the situation worsens. What’s unique right now is that extreme weather seems to be pounding almost every region of the globe, the UN said in a statement.

Related: Global hunger touched 15-year high as COVID-19 limited food access; UN

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