(Bloomberg) – No country in the world puts more breakfast on the table than Brazil.
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Farms dotting the vast plains and mountainous areas that tower over the Atlantic coast produce four-fifths of world orange juice exports, half of sugar exports, one-third of coffee exports, and one-third. part of the soybeans and corn that are used to feed egg-laying hens and cattle.
So when the region’s crops were hit this year by the worst drought in a century followed by an unprecedented Antarctic front repeatedly blanketing the land in a thick frost, global commodity markets were shaken.
The cost of Arabica beans soared 30% in a six-day period in late July; orange juice increased 20% in three weeks; and sugar hit a four-year high in August.
Price spikes are contributing to a surge in international food inflation (a UN index has risen 33% in the past 12 months), exacerbating financial difficulties amid the pandemic and forcing millions of low-income families reduce food purchases around the world. Furthermore, the episode sends a dire warning of things to come, as scientists anticipate that rising global temperatures and declining soil moisture will increasingly wreak havoc on Brazil’s farmlands and much of the rest. of the world.
“It’s a vicious circle,” says Marcelo Seluchi, meteorologist at the Center for Warning and Monitoring of Natural Disasters in Brazil. “It does not rain because there is no humidity, and there is no humidity because it does not rain.” Deforestation in the Amazon is playing an important role, he says. By his calculations, Brazil has not had a normal rainy season since 2010.
“It has been a very peculiar year,” he says. “Floods in Germany and China, and there is a very serious drought problem in Brazil.”
There is also drought across the border in Argentina and in Chile, Canada, Madagascar, Mexico and Russia. The situation in the United States has been diverse this summer: the west has been devastated by record heat waves, wildfires and a drought so severe that, like in Brazil, huge lakes and rivers are drying up and hydroelectric power is running out; while the east of the country has been drenched by record tropical storms and deadly floods.
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