(Reuters) - Italian durum wheat and dairy farmer Attilio Tocchi saw
warning signs during the winter of the dramatic drought to come at
his holding a mile away from the Tuscan coast.
it still hadn't rained at the beginning of spring we realized it was
already irreparable," he said, adding that he had installed fans
to try and cool his cows that were suffering in the heat.
in southern Europe threatens to reduce cereal production in Italy and
parts of Spain to its lowest level in at least 20 years, and hit
other regional crops including olives and almonds.
and Leon, the largest cereal growing region in Spain, has been
particularly badly affected, with crop losses estimated at around 60
to 70 percent.
year was not bad, it was catastrophic. I can't remember a year like
this since 1992 when I was a little child," said Joaquin Antonio
Pino, a cereal farmer in Sinlabajos, Avila.
said many of his fields had not even been harvested, because crop
revenues would not cover the wages of laborers who gathered them.
the EU is collectively a major wheat exporter, Spain and Italy both
rely on imports from countries including France, Britain and Ukraine.
soft wheat imports are expected to rise by more than 40 percent to
5.6 million tonnes in the 2017-2018 marketing year, according to
drought has helped support EU wheat futures, which have risen around
6 percent since the beginning of June, although the prospect of a
larger harvest in France this year should ensure adequate overall
supplies in the trading bloc.
and Italy are also among the world's top producers of olive oil.
in both countries is expected to fall, but the decline is likely to
be particularly steep in Italy, where drought is the latest headache
for olive growers already plagued by insects and a bacterial disease
in recent years.
60 percent drop in Italian output is forecast by the International
expected good production this year, but it hasn't turned out like
that," said Francesco Suatoni, who tends about 4,000 olive trees
on the fringe of the ancient town of Amelia, in Umbria, central
up a branch with small, shriveled pods on it he added: "Each
little ball could have been an olive, but it's scorched.
year we expect to produce 50 percent less than last year. Let's hope
not, but it will be very difficult to have a good crop."
crops have been damaged, and Italy's agricultural association
Coldiretti has estimated the drought could cost the nation's farmers
more than 1 billion euros.
drought is affecting, to a greater or lesser extent, all crops in
Spain, even those that rely on greenhouses, because there's a limit
on the amount of water available," said Jose Ugarrio, analyst at
the Spanish young farmers' association.
production of nuts such as almonds and pistachios has also fallen
expect a 23 pct drop in almond production this year from last year,"
see rising temperatures as a long-term trend, which threatens the
viability of farming in the region.
this situation ... you realize it's almost impossible to keep going.
You think OK, this year I will try to manage, but if the harvest is
like this next year you won't be able to cope any more," said
farmer Tocchi, who is also the local head of farmers' group
scientists have said heat waves like this year's are becoming more
frequent, and are linked to man-made climate change.
is the first year we have watered the plants. There was never any
need before," said olive grower Suatoni.