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Intense heatwave in Europe could dent crop yields, could further lead to food shortage

Intense heatwave in Europe adds to its multidimensional problems

The severe heatwave in Europe could dent crop production at a time when the continent is already reeling under inflationary pressure driven by acute energy shortage. To add to the problem, farmers in several countries have launched massive protests against the governments’ move to switch to organic farming.

Production of cereals has been hit by dry weather conditions in several regions, the European Commission warned earlier this month, slashing projections for cereal yield compared to last year. Not just that. The EU animal sector, comprising meat and dairy, too are facing challenges with animal disease outbreaks and high feed prices. Wheat is largely used as animal feed stock as well.

The Russia-Ukraine war, since February has pushed food prices across the globe, denting supplies.

“Europe is staring at a recession, the economic uncertainty has only increased in the last few months. The continent has been badly impacted by the Russia-Ukraine war,” Sharad Kumar Saraf, former president, Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) told India Narrative.

The Japan Times in a recent report said that “crops are wilting and power plants are being forced to shut down, threatening an inflation-weary region with a further boost in food and energy prices.”

Already, food and energy security have been dented. The European Commission has slashed its 2022 soft-wheat crop estimate to 125 million tons, down 5 million tons from a prior estimate.

Amid energy and food shortage the annual average inflation in Europe is likely to a historical high of 7.6 per cent. In The European Union, it is projected to be 8.3 per cent.

Thirty per cent of the world’s maize and wheat supplies came from Russia and Ukraine. Russia is also a major producer and exporter of fertilisers, such as nitrogen fertilisers – which are key to ensuring agri-food production.

Kristalina Georgieva, the top boss of the International Monetary Fund in her blog said that 2022 will be a tough year and possibly the next year will be even tougher. Europe’s economic crisis is worsening as it stares at acute energy shortage and could even slip into a recession.

Analysts said that despite India’s role in maintaining global food security will only increase.

“We are ready to increase exports of food grains, we are already doing that..our rice exports have gone up significantly over the last couple of years..but we will also have to keep an eye on our domestic needs, which naturally will come first,” an insider said. 

Also read: EU's largest economy, Germany is likely to slip into recession

After the Ukraine war, is Europe now staring at a food crisis?