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S. America drought hits corn yields
by Staff Writers
Rio De Janeiro (UPI) Jan 31, 2012

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

Drought in Central and South America is affecting corn yields, a boon for U.S. corn exporters but a cause of major worries for agriculture traders in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Mexico.

Dry conditions blamed on La Nina weather phenomenon caused political wrangles in Argentina, led to a state of emergency in parts of Paraguay and relief measures in other countries.

Argentina is the world's second largest corn exporter after the United States.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is facing farmer unrest over allegations her government's relief program is too little too late for many communities affected by drought.

Argentine agriculturalists said La Nina could diminish corn yields in the country by 2 million tons.

U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization economist Liliana Balbi said current projections reduced estimates for Argentine corn yields from 23 million tons last year to 21.4 million tons this year.

Corn yields in southern Brazil are down about 1.5 million tons. South Brazil accounts for more than 60 percent of summer corn exported by the country, the world's third largest exporter.

The drought has caused political disruptions, more so in Argentina than in other Latin American countries. Relations between Argentina's government and importers soured after Fernandez slapped new taxes on traders and refused to budge in the face of furious demands for change.

Fernandez also upset farmers' groups after ignoring demands for more emergency aid to drought-stricken areas of the country.

The latest potential political flash point was caused when the government refused to defer new legislation that importers denounced as punitive, restrictive and wrapped in red tape.

Further complications arose after trade partner Brazil, increasingly under pressure over drought damage to its own crops, objected to new Argentine rules coming into place. Argentina and Brazil have $30 billion-a-year trade.

Critics say the new rules, going into effect next month, will introduce more bureaucratic delays. Manufacturers said the rules would inhibit industrial production and growth as they would likely impede the flow of components, raw materials and other industrial inputs.

Brazilian Foreign Trade and Industry Minister Fernando Pimentel declared that in contrast to amicable political ties the "trade relations with Argentina are a permanent problem." Brazilian media criticism of Argentine trade policies has gained momentum amid calls for retaliatory steps.

The government of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has said it wants to wait and observe till March before taking countermeasures against Buenos Aires.

The influential Sao Paulo Federation of Industries in Brazil said the new Argentine import rules could affect 80 percent of Brazilian exports to the country.

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World Food Programme to feed 80,000 after Mozambique floods
Maputo (AFP) Jan 31, 2012 - The World Food Programme (WFP) will give emergency food to more than 80,000 people in Mozambique after twin cyclones left 32 dead in the impoverished country in January, officials said Tuesday.

Mozambique's government requested help for 16,000 families in flood-hit central province Zambezia, said WFP spokeswoman Naomi Scott.

"Approximately 16,000 families -- that's what we've been asked to supply for and that will be in Zambezia tomorrow," Scott told AFP. "That's over 80,000 people."

Indian Ocean tropical storms Dando and Funso killed at least 32 people and affected 125,000 in January, according to Mozambican emergency operations head Dulce Chilundo.

"Tens of thousands of people have been removed by force from flooded or flood-prone areas for refusing to leave their houses with their belongings, especially livestock and farm crops," Chilundo told AFP.

"These people are now facing housing and food shortages in resettlement places. The temporary shelters and food that we made available isn't enough for everybody."

More than 100,000 hectares of farmland have been lost across the southern African country, where 80 percent of the population relies on subsistence farming.

The WFP will supply maize from its 9,500 tonnes of food stock in Mozambique, it said.

"Obviously there are worries on a long-term because the crop fields have been destroyed," said Scott.

Rivers remained above alert levels in some areas Tuesday morning.

Flooding had subsided in the south and north, though water levels were rising in central Mozambique because of ongoing rains and water coming downstream from neighbouring countries, according to the National Water Board's Rute Nhamucho.

Flood-prone Mozambique was hit by two cyclones four years ago. In 2000, more than 700 people died and half a million were left without shelter in the worst flooding in the country's living memory.


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Geoengineering and global food supply
Washington DC (SPX) Jan 31, 2012
Carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of coal, oil, and gas have been increasing over the past decades, causing the Earth to get hotter and hotter. There are concerns that a continuation of these trends could have catastrophic effects, including crop failures in the heat-stressed tropics. This has led some to explore drastic ideas for combating global warming, including the idea of try ... read more

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