Italy is struggling with drought and dryness in the summer of 2022. The lack of water threatens agricultural products that are popular with German consumers. An overview.
Munich/Turin/Bardolino/Parma – drought. Dryness. lack of water. Northern Italy groans. Heat and lack of rainfall are causing problems for the huge agriculture and food industry between Piedmont, Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna and Veneto. The Po, the country’s longest river, which runs here, has dried up in many places.
In the medium term, this can affect the food shelves in German supermarkets. Or the range of dishes at your favorite Italian restaurant. Merkur.de explains which food classics are on the brink for the Germans.
Maize: Large quantities are produced in Northern Italy – also for polenta
Italy is one of the largest importers of corn in the world. Finally, among other things, the traditional dish polenta consists mainly of corn grits. Supplying its own market is becoming increasingly difficult for the country with around 60 million inhabitants. For example, the corn cultivation fields on the Adriatic coast have been severely affected by the drought.
“Normally, when the Po is fresh water, the fields are irrigated via the rivers. With suction systems, the water is directed into the irrigation canals. However, if it is salty, we cannot use this water,” explains farmer Mauro Girello from Porto Tolle (Veneto) in an interview with the time. The Po draws salt water from the Adriatic Sea there. Most recently, the water of the river was salty more than 21 kilometers inland.
If it’s salty, we can’t use that water
“The corn plant is under a lot of stress when there is a lack of water. This is a big problem because the corn is then contaminated with toxins and fungi. The cobs do not reach full size and give off a putrid odor. That makes the fruit inedible,” Girello explains to the newspaper. Harvested in September. According to Girello, 40 percent of the corn harvest is already over, “when toxins have formed, it will be 70 to 80 percent,” he says. Bitter: Wheat, sugar beet, fruit, vegetables and rice are also grown in the swampy areas of Rovigo province. Will holidaymakers soon have to pay significantly more for their polenta?
Farmed Adriatic mollusks: mussels no longer in every Italian restaurant?
Porto Tolle is also known for its mussel farms in the lagoon. These are usually served in restaurants in this country and in Italy with a strong white wine and tomato sauce.
But: Not only in Porto Tolle does the rising water temperature cause the oxygen content to drop. Stocks of farmed mollusks and fish are being lost. Less oxygen means more macroalgae, further reducing oxygen levels. These are far from ideal conditions for breeding mollusks.
Arborio and Carnaroli: Italian rice for the beloved risotto as a luxury good?
Even the beloved risotto could soon no longer be taken for granted. “If it doesn’t rain very soon, there will be a disaster here,” says Paolo Carrà, President of the Novara, Biella and Vercelli rice farmers. 4,000 companies in Piedmont produce 800,000 tons of rice per year – for example the coveted varieties Arborio and Carnaroli.
That is 27 percent of the total EU production of rice. Farmers in Piedmont expect crop failures of 50 to 70 percent in 2022 due to water shortages and drought.
If it doesn’t rain very soon, there’s going to be a disaster here.
The situation in the rice fields in the province of Pavia, around 35 kilometers south of the metropolis of Milan, is just as dramatic. “The rice field is so dry that I can ride my motorbike over it. Under normal circumstances, the field had to be completely flooded. Instead, this rice field has not seen water this year because the required amount of water has not reached my farm,” farmer Dario Vicini tells the news agency AFP. Only in this area of the 650 km long Po is the water level seven meters lower than usual.
In the video: Rice farmers in Italy are suffering greatly from the drought
Lugana, Bardolino and Soave: is the quality of Lake Garda and Verona wines in jeopardy?
Because of this, water is drained from Lake Garda into the Po via Mincio locks near Peschiera del Garda. This is missing in the long term for the irrigation of the vineyards between Riva del Garda, Bardolino, Soave and Lugana. “We have to protect our shipping and the fish, while ensuring that the farmers around the lake can still irrigate their crops in August,” says Pierlucio Ceresa, managing director of the Garda Association of Municipalities.
In his opinion, the increased flow of 30 cubic meters per second is of no use to the Po River, says Ceresa: “The river needs at least 500 additional cubic meters per second at the moment. The only thing we can achieve with this measure is that after the Po, Lake Garda also gets sick.”
Parmesan DOP: will the pasta side dish soon be really expensive?
And the Germans’ favorite accompaniment to spaghetti Bolognese is also in danger due to the drought: Parmesan with the DOP seal of approval. Because: If there is insufficient hydration, livestock are no longer suitable for the production of the specialty, the milk then no longer has the high quality for the production of Parmesan. It no longer meets the criteria of the DOP seal.
Dairy farmer Simone Minelli explains to the US TV channel CNN that between 100 and 150 liters of water are needed per day and cow. But water is not only lacking in the fields when the feed is grown, but also in the drinking tubs of the cows. Some farmers are therefore considering reducing their livestock. Parmesan is getting really expensive. (pm)
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