Oct 1, 2014
Home| Tools| Events| Blogs| Discussions Sign UpLogin

El Nino Alert Signals Drought, Flood Risk for World’s Farmers

May 7, 2014
Brazil Harvest Perfect Storm

Australia issued an El Nino alert on expectations the weather-altering pattern will probably develop as early as July, potentially bringing drought across the Asia- Pacific region and heavier-than-usual rains to South America.

The tropical Pacific Ocean has warmed steadily in recent months, the Bureau of Meteorology said on its website May 6, citing large anomalies below the surface and increasingly warm surface temperatures. Models suggested that the likelihood of an event is at least 70 percent, the government forecaster said.

El Ninos can roil agricultural markets worldwide as farmers contend with drought or too much rain, while also curbing the incidence of Atlantic hurricanes. Forecasters from the U.S. to the United Nations have warned an event may happen this year, and ABN Amro Group NV said confirmation could trigger support for coffee, sugar and cocoa prices. Golden Agri-Resources Ltd., Indonesia’s largest palm oil producer, said that an El Nino may damage supply from the Southeast Asian country next year.

"We are at El Nino alert level," the Melbourne-based bureau said. To qualify for that status, three of four conditions that assess sea temperatures, winds, climate models and the Southern Oscillation Index, or SOI, need to be met, with chances of an event of at least 70 percent, the bureau said.

Sugar rose 5.9 percent in New York this year as dry weather in biggest producer Brazil threatened crops, while cocoa gained 8.1 percent on expectations for a global deficit. Arabica coffee has surged 85 percent in 2014, the best-performer in the Standard & Poor’s GSCI Spot Index of 24 commodities.


Goldman’s View


Disruptions associated with El Ninos have been most important for cocoa, coffee, sugar and palm oil, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said in an April 13 report. The pattern would boost risks to soft-commodity price forecasts, the bank said.

El Ninos, which are caused by the periodic warming of the Pacific, occur every two to seven years and are associated with warmer-than-average years. The last El Nino was from 2009 to 2010, and since then the Pacific has either been in its cooler state, called La Nina, or neutral.

In Australia, about two-thirds of the events since 1900 have resulted in major drought over large parts of the continent, the bureau said. The country is the world’s fourth- largest wheat exporter and third-largest shipper of sugar.

Palm oil production in Indonesia, the world’s biggest grower, may be damaged next year if an El Nino sets in during the second or third quarter of 2014, Golden Agri Chief Executive Officer Franky Widjaja said yesterday. Drier-than-usual weather has a lagged impact on production of the commodity, which is crushed year-round from fresh-fruit bunches.

Previous 1 2 Next

See Comments

RELATED TOPICS: Weather, Forecasts, Beef News, drought

Log In or Sign Up to comment


No comments have been posted



Receive the latest news, information and commentary customized for you. Sign up to receive the AgWeb Daily eNewsletter today!.

Enter Zip Code below to view live local results:
The Home Page of Agriculture
© 2014 Farm Journal, Inc. All Rights Reserved|Web site design and development by AmericanEagle.com|Site Map|Privacy Policy|Terms & Conditions