Serious drought hitting Europe, wider world

World Saturday 13/August/2022 08:11 AM
By: DW
Serious drought hitting Europe, wider world
Hungary's Lake Velence is no longer a happy hunting ground for thirsty geese

Around much of the Northern Hemisphere, from Hungary to Hawaii, from the drying Rhine River to the now-recovering Rio Grande, or from Casablanca to California, summer droughts and high temperatures are having a serious impact on everything from agriculture to the freight industry.

Here's a rundown of some of the latest drought-related developments from around the world, plus a window to more bespoke coverage on DW. 

Germany — Logistics operator to stop most barge operations on Upper and Middle Rhine

Due to low water level, the German container logistics company Contargo is suspending most of its inland shipping operations on the Upper and Middle Rhine.

Since no significant rainfall is expected in the coming days, the company expects the Kaub Gauge level to fall below 40 cm (15,7 inches) from this coming weekend.

"Then our barges will not be able to sail without danger, and for reasons of safety we shall have to largely discontinue our navigation on the Upper and Middle Rhine," Contargo said in a statement on the company's website.

Germany — Farmers' organization issues harvest warning

The president of the German Farmers' Association, Joachim Rukwied, warned on Friday that without imminent rain, this year's harvests could be severely affected by the late-summer heat wave.

He added that the combined issues of inflation and the conflict in Ukraine were exacerbating the situation even for farmers in Western Europe, hundreds or thousands of kilometers from the front lines. 

"At the moment we are fighting on many fronts," Rukwied told German news agency dpa. "Fertilizer prices are four times higher than they were a year ago. Energy prices are twice as high. Feed prices have risen."

Rukwied said that "if it does not rain thoroughly and soon, then we fear harvest yields could be reduced by as much as 30% or 40%."

The 2022 grain harvest was proceeding largely according to plan, Rukwied said, but crops harvested later in the year such as potatoes and sugar beet were at particular risk and might end up costing more as a result.

Rukwied also warned of the effect on farmers' own winter reserves. With grass in much of the country brown — "absolutely nothing is regrowing" — some farmers were already having to feed livestock from stocks set aside for winter, as they are unable to cut any fresh food from fallow fields.