On the edge of the Australian Outback sits the giant rice plant at Deniliquin, which once processed enough rice to feed 20 million people a year. The Mill is closed now, the victim of a six year drought which has ended Australia’s huge rice export business, caused world rice prices to rise drastically and led to food riots in Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Haiti, Indonesia, Italy, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, the Philippines, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Yemen. Now the Australian rice crop is not the only one affected by drought, but the loss of this huge source, plus the severe production shortage in the environmentally destroyed parts of Western China, is adding to the problem.
It is difficult to definitely link short-term changes in weather to long-term climate change, but the unusually severe drought is consistent with what climatologists predict will be a problem of increasing frequency.
Indeed, the chief executive of the National Farmers’ Federation in Australia, Ben Fargher, says, “Climate change is potentially the biggest risk to Australian agriculture.”