“Argentina is enduring its ninth heat wave of the growing season, when the norm is for three or four, compounding its third straight La Niña-fuelled drought,” according to the Buenos Aires Times in March 2023. With record high temperatures and low precipitation, the drought in Argentina became severe in the last three months of 2022 and continues to persist. Argentina is a major producer of corn, wheat and soybean crops. The heat and lack of rainfall are proving extremely difficult for farmers trying to continue operations with little water and harsh temperatures. The National Meteorological Service (SMN) has tracked and reported weather data since 1961. The drought in Argentina is the worst since the SMN started to record data. February 2023 received 41.9% less rain than it usually does.
Experts are crediting the weather in Argentina to the La Niña climate pattern. La Niña refers to a weather pattern that cools the surface of the Pacific water on the west coast of South America, creating hotter and drier weather in South America. It usually occurs every three to five years, but experts are crediting Argentina’s continuous hot and dry conditions to a third successive year of La Niña.
Impact on Crop and Economy
A severe combination of heat waves and a dry climate is causing fires to scorch and spread through Northern Argentina. Argentina suffered a minimum of eight heat waves between 2022 and 2023. As of February 23, 2023 officials state that the fires have covered at least 9% of the Corrientes province’s territory, located in Northeastern Argentina.
Due to the lack of crops to sell, the Rosario Grains Exchange (BCR) predicts that the drought in Argentina will cut the nation’s 2023 GDP by $19 billion compared to 2022. The drought has already reduced the country’s GDP by three points.
With the inability to grow as many crops as usual, coupled with almost 100% inflation, Argentina is struggling to meet the annual debt owed to the IMF. However, Argentina and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are currently negotiating a deal where the nation does not need to provide the IMF with the amount of “currency reserves target” previously agreed upon for 2023.
In addition, Argentina is working on several solutions to ease troubles for struggling farmers who depend on crops as their livelihood. In January 2023, the government announced the launch of a relief fund for farmers struggling amid the drought. The fund will provide farmers with access to 5 billion pesos, or about $27 million.
Secondly, the government announced at the same time that it will not require farmers in areas affected the worst by the drought to pay the “advance income tax payments.” This comes along with lower interest rates and greater subsidies. The hope is that this will lighten any excess financial burdens that struggling farmers may have.
– Maya Steele