Letter from Italy: Water shortages in north a new threat to European food prices
Italian tomatoes, rice, and extra virgin olive oil will cost more due to a megadrought.
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By Andrea Zanon
(Andrea Zanon is the CEO of Empower Capital and has 25 years of professional experience in risk management, investment promotion, and resiliency. He advises ministers of finances, sovereign wealth funds and global corporations on sustainability and M&A.)
VENICE, ITALY (Callaway Climate Insights) — It will likely cost 20% to 50% more soon to buy Italian arborio rice (rice used to make risotto), extra virgin olive oil and tomato sauce due to the megadrought affecting Italy. This drought is different as it is affecting the entire country including the northern regions of Piedmont, Lombardy and Veneto, an area which normally has enormous amounts of water.
The water richness in the north (the agriculture and industrial hub of Italy) has created a false sense of water security, leading to under-investment in water harvesting, management and storing. This is different in the south of the country where water has always been scarce resulting in better drought mitigation systems.
Water supplies have been decreasing for decades in Italy as the country experiences its worst drought in 70 years. The Po River, the longest waterway that extends for over 600 Km from the Alps to the Adriatic Sea, has dropped so low that seawater has started to make its way inland, killing crops and destroying natural ecosystems.
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