Thursday, August 22, 2013

Drought shrivels harvest in Central Europe

Deutsche Welle: Farmers in Austria and Hungary are rethinking climate change as a bitter drought tears through their fields. How will they grow food if the weather is so unpredictable?

...For farmers in Austria and across the border in Hungary this is just the latest bout of extreme weather to ravage their fields. In March, temperatures dropped to record lows. This was followed in May and June by some of the worst flooding the region has seen in recent history. Now, high temperatures and poor rainfall threaten to wipeout what is left of this year's harvest.

"This drought is catatrophic. The farmers have suffered massive damage and the heat continues," said Austrian agriculture minister Nikolas Berlakovich when he visited the province where Christian Schmidt tils the land. Berlakovich estimates says the damage could cost "several hundred million euros.".

Austria has set up a disaster fund to compensate people hit by natural events like floods and drought, but the fund simply cannot cover all of today's claims. A decade ago between 50 and 60 million euros were paid out annually. In 2012, that figure more than doubled - and costs are expected to be even higher this year....

A wheat field in Hungary, pre-drought, shot by Takkk, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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