Anomalous Heat Promises Year of Hunger to Russia

Russia has been suffering from anomalous heat for three weeks already. Unbearable hot weather undermines people's health and causes considerable economic damage. First and foremost, the heat affects the agricultural industry. The growth of prices on crops leads to higher prices on animal fodder and lower profitability in the cattle breeding industry. As a result, consumers will have to compensate all the losses, which the heat has caused so far. Prices on food and dairy products in Russia are expected to grow.

Daytime temperatures in Central Russia currently hit 33-35 degrees above zero. They are expected to climb even higher - to 36-38 degrees by the end of this week. Many regions of the country have already introduced state of emergency.

However, as it usually happens, some grieve while others celebrate. The income of the companies producing water, soft drinks and beer have been growing steadily. The makers of air conditioners, fans and ice cream are very happy about the hot weather too.

Such a weather phenomenon brings more bad than good, though. The consumption of electric power grows under such conditions. Restaurants suffer losses too, because people eat less meat and other heavy dishes in hot weather.

The lack of water is also a serious problem. The Akhtuba River, the major source of drinking water in the Astrakhan region of Russia, is running dry. In Austria, for example, the lack of water has led to ridiculous situations. Administrations of swimming pools asked visitors not to swallow water during swimming. People were also asked not to wear nylon swimwear because nylon shorts absorb a lot of water.

The heatwave brings peat and forest fires. Thirteen hectares of forest burnt in Russia's Nizhni Novgorod region. Fires caused the damage of over 36 million rubles, and the regional authorities were forced to ban the visiting of forests.

Hot sun kills crops in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Western Europe. Agricultural ministries of these countries had to revise their forecasts for harvests in 2010. Official spokespeople for the Russian Ministry for Agriculture forecast the gathering of 55 million tons of wheat, which is 2 million tons less than was previously expected. The heat has already destroyed over 5 million hectares of farm crops in the Russian Federation.

Ukraine expects the losses of three million tons of crops. In Western Europe, France is expected to suffer the biggest losses because of hot summer.

It is worthy of note that agricultural producers all over the world suffer tens of billions of dollars of losses every year because of droughts. The summer of 2010 will obviously be more painful. Consumers will have to face another price growth on most popular products such as bread, sugar, butter and meat. The heat may also trigger the growth of the inflation rate.

US farmers suffer too, albeit from a different disaster. The farmers across the Atlantic Ocean suffer from too much rain. The rains complicate the gathering of winter wheat and corn.

The prices on agricultural groups have grown considerably on world exchanges during the recent two weeks. Futures quotations on wheat and corn have gained 18 and 15 percent respectively at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange during the last 8 trade sessions.

Yekaterina Yevstigneyeva.

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov