El Niño weather could spark global food shortage as heat destroys rice crops

Global rice supplies are facing a double-whammy shortage as weather patterns look to double down on the already hard-hit supply chain.

Production across South and Southeast Asia is expected to be hindered as the world heads into an El Niño weather event which will lead to warmer, drier air arriving earlier than normal.

This comes in tandem with the global rice market already suffering from the impacts of the war in Ukraine.

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El Niño causes parts of the Pacific Ocean to warm in a natural and temporary way – and global warming is feared to be making them more extreme.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced the arrival of the weather event a month or two earlier than is normally expected and this means it has time to expand and swell.

Scarily, scientists reckon that supersized levels have a one in four chance of being reached.

El Niño means less rainfall, which is bad news for rice which demands huge amounts of water to grow.

This is expected to hit parts of Asia particularly hard with the massive continent accounting for some 90% of the growth and consumption of rice, the Independent reports.

Particularly strong El Niños can also cause extreme weather at either end of the scale – be that drought or flood.

Research analyst at the International Food Policy Research Institute Abdullah Mamun noted that 5% broken white rice’s price has increased in Thailand 16% in June compared to last year’s average.

This is likely to play into other issues too, including fertiliser being harder to come by due to the fighting in Ukraine.

“There is uncertainty over the horizon,” Mamun added.

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