Climate change: the disaster of French wine and beyond
Complex supply chains across the world make countries dependent on others for essential items, including food and drink. When interrupted, the effects are felt globally. We have already experienced the turbulence disrupted supply chains can have during the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire issued a statement to supermarkets across the country urging them to stock French products.
There are a few cases other than COVID-19 where disasters have disrupted the supply chain, causing economic damage. Agriculture tends to suffer the greatest damage and financial losses during disasters such as extreme weather conditions, which become more frequent, intense and complex. Between 2008 and 2018, agricultural disasters cost developing countries more than € 908 billion, profoundly affecting the livelihoods of small farmers who were already battling big business.
Electrix, producer of recessed electrical boxes for the food industry, looks back on the French wine disaster and other events around the world that have had an impact on food and drink.
The wine disaster
Unusual frosts have hit France this year, with a generally warm April suddenly hit by freezing temperatures and bitter frosts. The initial record-breaking start to spring caused the vines and fruit trees to bloom earlier than usual, and they were later ruined by an unexpected wave of cold temperatures. Research has shown that as the global temperature rises, the seasonal calendar changes and becomes more severe.
The vineyards of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Provence and the Rhone Valley were hit and had to light thousands of fires and candles near the vines and trees in an attempt to keep them warm overnight. Unfortunately, many wineries have reported a 100 percent loss in yield.
French Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie commented: “This is probably the biggest agricultural disaster of the start of the 21st century. At the same time, Prime Minister Jean Castex has pledged € 1 billion in aid to winegrowers and farmers. Some vineyards can take years to recover.
The French wine industry has already coped with the effects of COVID-19 and declining demand for restaurant orders, as well as Donald Trump’s tariffs on major French products, including wine and cheese, which led to a drop of almost 14% of French. wine and spirits exports last year. Additionally, due to the effects of climate change, the flavors in wine are likely to change or, in some cases, disappear forever. Merlot, for example, could become a thing of the past due to the grapes used in this particular wine being less resistant to climate change.
Thirsty crops deplete groundwater
Rice is the main source of food for more than three billion people every day and helps prevent the global food crisis from worsening. Unfortunately, there is a risk of growing food insecurity for such a staple food.
India is experiencing both a water and agricultural crisis that has been developing for decades. Rice is one of the thirstiest crops in existence – farmers use an average of 15,000 liters of water to grow one kilogram of paddy (rice plant). Rice drains groundwater in the Punjab in northern India, and the soil is expected to be depleted by 2039 and become like a desert. A fifth of the world’s population lives in India, which has only four percent of the world’s water while being the largest user with 90 percent of its water used for agriculture.
India isn’t the only country struggling to grow rice due to a lack of water – Southeast Asian countries like China face the same challenge. Climate change makes extreme weather conditions such as floods and droughts more frequent, making water supply difficult. Scientists are looking to develop new varieties of rice that require less water and are more resistant to drought and climate change. Additionally, water technologists in New Delhi are looking to design water management techniques that use no more than 600 liters of water for one kg of rice.
Increase in rodent farming in Australia
Australia has faced climate change head-on, from bushfires that devastated 27.2 million acres of land to food and crops damaged in the biggest mouse invasion on record. Australian farmers are accustomed to a plague of mice every ten years or so; However, with global warming, they might become more regular with more mice than ever before. Temperatures create the perfect breeding ground for rodents, which then destroy crops.
Farmers are even forced to burn their crops infested with mice and mouse urine.
A disaster-resilient future is possible if we develop sustainable agriculture. Preparing for risk management can help reduce the vulnerability of agriculture to natural disasters and climate change.