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Drought Strikes in Russia and Central Asia
USAgNet - 06/29/2021

Some regions of Russia are at risk of losing up to half their harvest due to a prolonged spring drought. The situation is equally critical in Central Asia where some countries (Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan) that control the upper course of rivers have tried to conserve water for their own needs, leaving those with the lower course dry.

Russia’s Ministry of Agriculture, headed by Dmitry Patrushev, is putting on a brave face, refusing for now to revise its grain harvest projections, despite preliminary data showing a clear decline. Without substantial rain, grain prices will see a major increase, badly affecting Russia’s already shaky economy. If the uncharacteristic heat does not drop substantially, farms in Tatarstan, a republic that borders Russia’s Ural mountain range, will be placed under an emergency regime.

This might happen, Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov suggested, if things don’t improve by 30 June. Tatar farmers lost most of their harvest already in 2010.

For Vladimir Petrichenko, general director of ProZerno, a company that specialises in grain crops analysis, the situation is no better in the Volga region or the Urals.

In all these areas there is not enough moisture, and the drought will affect the quality of the little grain that will be harvested since it is failing to ripen properly and is drying up quickly.

No rain has fallen for more than a month (and there was little before), putting all winter wheat at risk.

These regions are part of Russia’s Black Earth region, so called because of its high soil moisture, which now is a bleak greyish colour.

Meanwhile, the heat is on in Uzbekistan, where June temperatures have fluctuated o far between 38 and 42 Celsius, breaking all records since 1811, when they began to be kept in Central Asia. In Tashkent, the record is expected to be broken soon, with temperatures expected to reach 44 degrees.

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