Brazil’s Recent Drought Impacts Coffee and Orange ProductionBrazil is the world’s largest producer of coffee and oranges. The country produces around a third of the world’s coffee and orange supply. In addition, Brazil exports the largest amount of Arabica coffee beans and orange juice. However, with the recent drought in Brazil, the crops that rely on irrigation, such as orange trees and coffee plants, are suffering. Coffee and orange production is declining, impacting the supply chain of both products around the world and putting a heavy burden on Brazilian farmers.

Impact on Coffee and Orange Crops

Brazil is currently facing one of the worst droughts in the country’s history. The agricultural regions in Brazil, particularly the states of São Paulo and Minas Gerais, are generally tropical, but they are suffering from dry soil and scarce water reservoirs. Brazilian farmers started turning on irrigation systems for orange and coffee crops early, in fear of the lack of rainfall and limited water reservoirs with the dry season approaching. However, coffee production is taking even more of a hit due to 2021 being a “limited year.” Coffee production runs on a biennial cycle, meaning while there will be a higher production of coffee during one year, the next year will yield a lower amount of coffee from the same trees.

This year’s crop production indicates that if the drought continues, it will severely impact the orange and coffee supply. The past season’s orange production decreased by 31% in comparison to the last season and estimates project that coffee production for the 2021-2022 crop cycle will drop by the same percentage. More specifically, Arabica coffee may see a decline in production of “between 32.4% and 39.1%.” With coffee trees not receiving enough moisture and orange groves experiencing ripeness inconsistencies, coffee and orange production is decreasing.

Overall Consequences of Drought

With the lack of coffee and orange production, the supply of these crops is limited. Limited supply and high demand are driving up the prices of both products, particularly coffee. The prices going up for these popular crops indicates that the products will be more inaccessible due to expensive price points.  Already, wholesale coffee prices have surged at a record high in comparison to recent years; the rate for Arabica coffee reached almost $1.70 per pound this year, which is a 60% increase from 2020. Along with higher coffee price points, orange prices are expected to rise and there may be an orange juice shortage.

Overall, Brazil is a large agricultural hub, not only producing coffee and oranges but also other vital crops, such as sugar cane and corn. Therefore, “the drought is also hurting key farming states, at a time when the agricultural sector has been driving Brazil’s economic recovery, with growth of 5.7% in the first quarter.” However, the drought not only affects the supply chain but also the farmers themselves. Farmers are selling coffee for very low prices and have had to even renegotiate prices with traders. The drought negatively affects everyone in the supply chain, however, farmers and their families depend on the income they get from selling crops.

The MAIS Program Provides a Solution

While there is no solution to directly combat the drought in Brazil, there are organizations that help farmers with agricultural technology and even an organization that helps farmers when it comes to climate crises. The MAIS Program uses different strategies in order “to help farmers plan for drought-intensive periods.” Some of its initiatives include modules with the ability to provide income to farmers with technical assistance. The organization provides solutions to farmers, including using the Opuntia-ficus cactus “as a substitute for corn and a biophysical water and food storage system” and planting drought-resistant trees. This program is designed to help farmers adapt to changes in weather and ensure food security in Brazil.

Every dollar that goes into the program generates $7 in the Jacuipe Basin of Brazil, among other impacts. Programs like MAIS help farmers deal with the impact of weather on crops, including the drought in Brazil that is affecting coffee and orange production.

– Karuna Lakhiani
Photo: Pixabay

The Green Revolution, Take 2

The prognosis of the fight against world hunger is seemingly bleak. Food shortages already exist, and the population of the planet is expected to exceed 9 billion by the middle of this century. Is the battle already lost? How can we add another 2-3 billion people to the equation and imagine that we have even a remote chance of winning the war on poverty and hunger? How can we end world hunger for good?

The answer lies in increasing efficiency. In the 1960s, the original Green Revolution brought modern fertilizers and agricultural methods to farmers in developing countries. The Revolution also led to the development of higher-yield crops and the expansion of infrastructure. Now it is time for the Green Revolution, Take 2.  We need such a revolution to support the still booming global population.

Research and development are the crucial elements of this next phase. Since most arable land is already in use for food production, the answer lies in increasing yields of the crops we currently grow. This problem can be approached in a variety of ways. Hybrid seeds and, like ‘em or hate ‘em, Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), have the potential to increase harvest size dramatically. A recent study in Zambia, conducted by the local government and Concern Worldwide, showed that hybrid seeds produce four times the amount of maize per hectare, compared to the African average.

Maximizing production through research and development will be crucial. Other kinds of efforts are also needed, however.  In developing countries especially, where smallholder farmers can make up a sizeable portion of the farming population, technological and financial support needs to be given. Many small-scale farmers require assistance in order to modernize their equipment and techniques. Additionally, in more rural areas where most farmers live, poor or inadequate infrastructure poses further problems for acquiring and distributing supplies, and in selling crops.

While success will hinge on technological developments and their implementation across all strata of society, there is also is a political battle to be fought and won. Leaders, at all levels, from local to international, will have to push for and honor commitments towards the support of agricultural development and ending global hunger.

The means for revolutionizing agricultural production are already becoming available to us. We can end world hunger. The challenge is going to be in implementing them across the globe in order to boost agricultural production worldwide.

– David Wilson

Source: Irish Examiner
Photo: Putting Farmers First

The Future for South Sudan
A year ago, Sudan and South Sudan were on the brink of war, but this month a deal between the two countries was finally implemented, allowing production in South Sudan’s main oil field to resume. This region, the Palouge oil field, accounts for 80% of the country’s oil production and has not been operational for 16 months due to disputes regarding the export of the oil.

This resumption of operations marks a significant moment in South Sudan’s brief history. Since its independence two years ago, the nation has suffered dramatic setbacks to its economy. The fledgling nation’s GDP contracted by 52% last year alone, while government revenues from oil-backed loans were cut by 98%. Now, however, with a pipeline deal in place with the north, South Sudan will be able to ramp up production to pre-independence levels.

After the drastic cuts in expenditure necessitated by the cessation of oil production during the last two years, this influx of revenue should significantly boost the country’s economy. South Sudan will have to diversify away from oil as the primary revenue generator over the next few years as reserves disappear, however, for now, the hope remains that oil profits will allow this nascent economy to establish itself. A stable economic platform marks the first steps in allowing the country and its people to grow.

– David Wilson

Sources: The Economist
Photo: Royal African Society