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Blistering Drought Hits Europe's Food Production  


A farm bakes in the heat in central France, July 17, 2022. (Lisa Bryant/VOA)

A swath of Europe is battling soaring temperatures, wildfires and a severe drought, with a new report predicting the parched conditions will shrink crop yields — including in agricultural heavyweight France — at a time when Russia’s blockade of grain from Ukraine is already hurting consumers.

On Tuesday, youngsters took a water break in Paris, where the temperature sizzled at around 37 degrees Celsius.

Swimmers cool off at the Canal de l'Ourcq in Paris, July 19, 2022. (Lisa Bryant/VOA)
Swimmers cool off at the Canal de l'Ourcq in Paris, July 19, 2022. (Lisa Bryant/VOA)

But elsewhere in France, there is no reprieve from the heat.

Firefighters in the southwestern Gironde area are battling massive blazes that have decimated thousands of hectares of land and covered the wine city of Bordeaux in a blanket of haze.

A European Union report out this week finds nearly half of EU territory risks drought, with France among half a dozen countries most severely affected. The dry weather is stressing nature and expected to dampen food and energy production — two areas where Europe is already feeling the fallout of the war in Ukraine.

The Loire river area, seen on July 16, 2022, is under a drought alert, although the river levels are still healthy. (Lisa Bryant/VOA)
The Loire river area, seen on July 16, 2022, is under a drought alert, although the river levels are still healthy. (Lisa Bryant/VOA)

The EU’s executive arm expects grain output across the bloc will be 2.5 percent lower than last year — although they’ll still have an export surplus.

Many are bracing for a bigger hit. Climate scientists predict heatwaves and droughts in Europe will be more frequent and intense.

More immediately, one farmer from the Alpes region told French TV he fears water shortages will trigger an irrigation ban in the coming weeks. If that happens, he says, it will be catastrophic for area harvests.

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