SAO PAULO, May 28 (Reuters) – Brazilian government agencies warned of droughts across the country this week as the nation faces its worst dry spell in 91 years, hurting hydroelectric power generation and agriculture while raising the risk of fires in the Amazon rainforest.
Late on Thursday, an agency linked to Brazil’s Mines and Energy Ministry recommended that the country’s water regulator ANA recognize a state of “water scarcity,” after a prolonged drought hit Central and Southern parts of Brazil along the Paraná river basin.
Separately, a weather monitoring agency linked to the Agriculture Ministry issued its first “emergency drought alert” for June to September, saying rains are likely to remain scarce in five Brazilian states during that period.
The lack of rain across much of Brazil has negative implications for grain cultivation, livestock and electricity generation, as Brazil relies heavily on hydro dams for its power. Dry weather this year also raises the risk of severe fires in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest and Pantanal wetlands, scientists say.
Drier-than-normal weather has hurt production of sugar and coffee in Brazil, the world’s largest supplier of those products, pushing up futures prices for the commodities.
Coffee futures touched a fresh 4-1/2 year high on Friday with traders worried that critical soil moisture in Minas Gerais could affect the 2022 coffee crop as well.
The Mines and Energy Ministry said dry conditions will persist in coming months, particularly in the Southeast and Center West regions.
As it tries to deal with the situation, the ministry announced measures aimed at adjusting water levels that supply the country’s hydro dams in a bid to avoid power shortages. (Reporting by Roberto Samora, Ana Mano in São Paulo; Additional reporting by Marcelo Teixeira in New York; Editing by Richard Chang)