After enduring the worst drought in nearly a century followed by a bout of cold temperatures, areas within Brazil’s farming belt are bracing for further adversity as the La Niña weather phenomenon threatens to bring more dry conditions later this year.
In the small mountain town of Caconde in São Paulo state, third-generation coffee grower Ademar Pereira, 44, estimates that half of this year’s crop will be lost as many of the shrubs on his family’s modest plantation have succumbed to the chill.
“It was already going to be a very small harvest. And with the frost, it got worse,” he said. “There are lots of people who’ve lost everything.”
Brazil is an agricultural powerhouse and a leading exporter of commodities including corn, sugar, orange juice and meat, but this year’s weather disruptions have led to soaring prices for coffee and sugar on international markets while giving bullish corn traders further fuel.