Updated 11:50 AM EST, Sun, Dec 05, 2021

Colombia’s Deep Drought Causes High Food Prices

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Colombia is currently feeling the effects of its drought in the rising food prices.

The drought, which is caused by months of El Niño, has affected 15,000 hectares of crops and left about 5,000 farmers and their families suffering the consequences, teleSUR reported.

The dry condition of agricultural land and diminished supply of crops are affecting supermarkets, causing food prices to rise up to 80 percent in some cases, according to reports by local media on Wednesday, teleSUR added.

Colombia's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said that water shortages have impacted majority of the crops, specifically tomatoes, maize, potatoes, and sugarcane, among others, the news outlet listed. Ministry Secretary Carlos Montaño said that as the water shortages persist, so is the high price of basic commodities.

Consumers in the cities are seeing a reduction in supply and price hikes stamped on local food products, teleSUR further reported. Price increases differ depending on the produce, but in plenty of cases they skyrocketed from 10 to 80 percent, according to figures from the database of the Central de Abasto Bogota, or Corabastos.

El Niño's three facets that have affected crops are water shortages, fires, and frost, teleSUR listed. Colombia's meteorological institute IDEAM said that the weather phenomenon, which is characterized by high temperatures and scant rainfall, will likely last until mid-April.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said last month that the current El Niño "is the second strongest one on record" and "unfortunately will intensify between now and March," according to a separate report from teleSUR.

The Cali River, which supplies water to the densely populated cities of Cali and Medellin, has dried up in January, the news outlet noted. This pushed water provider Emcali to cut supplies to neighborhoods.

Colombia's inflation has surged to its fastest speed in seven years due to the severe drought, Bloomberg reported. Consumer prices hiked up to 7.45 percent last month; the country's highest since 2008.

The Central Bank removed its policy rate for the fifth straight month in January to attempt controlling the inflationary burden, Bloomberg added. Juan David Ballen, a fixed income strategist at investment firm Casa de Bolsa, said that El Niño and the weaker peso will continue to affect consumer prices in the coming months.

Food costs increased 12 percent from a year earlier, while housing and health care prices each hiked around 6.1 percent, Bloomberg noted. Central Bank Governor Jose Dario Uribe said recently that the inflation rate will slow to 4 percent to 5 percent by the end of 2016 as the effects of the weather phenomenon and the weak peso dispels. Next year, Colombia is expected to hit its 3 percent inflation rate target.

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