Historic Argentina Drought Threatens Crop Exports, Electricity Supply

An ongoing drought has seen the Paraná River basin descend to 17 centimetres below sea level, having a knock-on impact on Argentina’s economy and local communities.

At the height of Argentine corn and soy export season, cargo ships have been unable to transport goods due to the shallowness of the basin, which has also sparked concerns amongst local communities who rely on the Paraná River for drinking water and energy supply.

The government have announced a $10.4 Million USD Water Emergency Fund to support local communities and workers that have been affected by the drought.

“Impact on the supply and quality of drinking water, navigation and port operations, the ecosystem, fish fauna and the generation of hydroelectric energy is expected,” the Argentinian government warned in a statement.

Argentina relies on exports; as one of the world’s top 3 corn exporters and largest supplier of soymeal feed which is used to feed livestock across Europe and Southeast Asia.

The drought is expected to cost local grains farmers and exporters $315 Million USD across a six-month period, according to the Rosario grains exchange.

Argentina’s National Water Institute (INA) predicts a “clearly unfavourable outlook…persists, with a certain probability of extending into the subsequent four months, at least.”

Authorities from the Casa Rosada have attributed the situation to a lack of rainfall in Brazil, where the river originates, pointing to the fact that floods and droughts are natural process in any river system.

However, environmentalists claim that the cause of the river crisis goes beyond possible droughts and instead are related to man-made factors such as deforestation, industrial pollution, climate change, hydroelectric dams, dredging works and the expansion of the agricultural industry.

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