Rice Fields Dry up as Italy’s Drought Lingers on

Rome, The worst drought Italy has faced in 70 years is thirsting paddy fields in the river Po valley and jeopardizing the harvest of the premium rice used for risotto.

Italy’s largest river is turning into a long stretch of sand due to the lack of rain, leaving the Lomellina rice flats — nestled between the river Po and the Alps — without the necessary water to flood the paddies.

According to the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), drought stress is the most damaging factor for rice, especially in the early stages of its growth. Heat waves, like those repeatedly hitting Italy with peaks of 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), can significantly reduce the yield of surviving rice.

The lack of rainfall has brought governors of various Italian regions to declare a state of emergency in order to conserve water and coordinate the management of minimal resources.

The region’s main water sources, the rivers Po and Dora Baltea, are eight times lower than the average seasonal levels, according to the West Sesia irrigation association, which regulates water distribution through the maze of channels which snake through the rice fields.

Source: Oman News Agency