For almost a decade we have been immersed in a drought so widespread that it has become “normal”. But no, it’s not. In fact, the last four years have been very hard and the strange succession of heat waves and lack of rain in 2022 has ended up exhausting ecosystems that have been hit hard. What is beginning to worry the experts is that the next 60 days may end up sinking them.
Two key months. The enormous problems of olive oil (which have caused sky-high prices in recent months) are being followed by a long succession of crises in almost every agricultural area.
The latest example has been Iberian ham. And it is that the drought has caused such a shortage of acorns that if we add the four denominations of origin of the peninsula, we see that the number of animals slaughtered has been reduced by 12.6%. Consequently, a more than considerable rise in the price is expected.
The water problem. To understand the problem, the Andalusian case is very clear. The autonomous community has the capacity to accumulate 11,971 hm3 of water in its swamps. At this time of the year, it was normal (that is, the average of the last 10 years) to have around 60% of that water. Today, however, there is only 29.84% (3,572 hm3). Reserves are, in fact, worse than last year.
We are not alone. While the European Union warns that the continent is on its way to entering one of the biggest and most persistent droughts in recent years, Copernicus data indicates that North Africa will also suffer a lot and the consequences for food production they will be considerable.
It’s not a consolation, but it does remind us of something we’ve been talking about for a long time: water is going to become a fundamental resource and (to the extent that its scarcity has direct consequences throughout the entire economy) it is good idea to get down to work and create contingency plans.
What does the State Meteorological Agency say? Initially, AEMET had good news: long-term models indicated that there was a 75% chance that April and May would be wetter than average. That would be excellent news. But, even if the prognosis comes true, it means nothing.
As happened last year, a heat wave at the wrong time could completely bring down the production of olive oil or any agricultural product. And that, in a context like the current one, only means one thing: price increases, price increases and price increases. It is time to wait for the rain like water in May.