The World Daily
Latest Brazil drought dubbed the worst in two decades



By Patryk Krych | The World Daily | MAY 11th 2021


The latest droughts plaguing Brazil are being dubbed the country’s worst in 20 years, with reduced hydroelectric power generation forcing the country to rely more on environmentally-harmful thermal power plants and corn yields continually under threat.

Brazil has been struggling with this latest drought for some weeks now, with the intense wave of heat and dry air causing threat to the country’s corn yields. Given Brazil’s status as the world’s second-largest exporter of the product, this could have disastrous effects both economically and otherwise.

Food inflation is a growing issue as prices were noted to have risen by as much as 2.1%, and very little rainfall is hampering production. In a report, Paris-based adviser Agritel said that “The situation is critical in Brazil.”

He added: “This should further strain the global balance sheet, while the U.S. will have to partly compensate for the drop in South American exports.”

Prices are increasing not only for corn and other produce, but also for power generation. Around three quarters of Brazil’s power is typically generated through flowing water in hydroelectric power plants. With the latest drought, reliance is gradually going to have to switch towards pricier and more environmentally-harmful means.

This is all according to National Electric Grid Operator (ONS) director-general, Luiz Carlos Ciocchi, who added that the crisis will most certainly lead to higher power prices but that there would at least be no risks of power shortages.

He told Reuters on Friday that: “If we did not have the pandemic and the economy was growing, we might have already had a (supply) problem last year.”

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro spoke out about the crisis on Monday, having referred to it as Brazil’s worst water crisis in all of its history. He further warned that the crisis will lead to further complications in power generation and supply.

He spoke at the entrance to the Presidential Palace in Brasilia, having stated that: “We have been unlucky, right? Rain usually (falls) until March, and now we are already in the phase where there is no rain.”


“The good thing is that, with the lower (seasonal) temperatures, the (demand) load drops, but we are getting as much thermal generation going as we can.”

AgRural, a Brazilian agribusiness consultancy, stated on Monday that it’s estimations for the yield of corn crops in all of Brazil were way down, currently at estimated 69.6 million tonnes, compared with 75.1 million tonnes in 2020. This is only for its second corn crop production, with the first having also underperformed and current yields at their lowest in three years.

Some are making links between the extreme drought crisis and the country’s continual deforestation problem. Since coming into office, Bolsonaro has been infamous for worsening deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, allegedly going so far as to give amnesty to illegal loggers and putting his focuses on industrialisation over environmental safety.

While there is still no directly proven link between the two, it’s been often noted that both deforestation and droughts feed into one another, perpetuating crises and worsening their effects substantially.

“Deforestation in the Amazon reduces rainfall regionally,” reads an open letter from Arie Staal a researcher and assistant professor from the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, and others. “While this deforestation itself has been reported to be facilitated by droughts.”

The letter added: “We quantify a reinforcing drought-deforestation feedback that is currently small, but becomes gradually stronger with cumulative deforestation. Our results suggest that global climate change, not deforestation, is the main driver of recent drying in the Amazon. However, a feedback between drought and deforestation implies that increases in either of them will impede efforts to curb both.”


By Patryk Krych | © The World Daily 2021