Serbia experiencing "strong and extreme" drought

BELGRADE -- According to Serbia's state meteorological authority RHMZ the ongoing drought has in the past days become "strong and extreme" in much of the country.

A field of corn, destroyed by the drought, is seen in northern Serbia (Tanjug)
A field of corn, destroyed by the drought, is seen in northern Serbia (Tanjug)

RHMZ Director Milan Dacić stated on Wednesday that should this weather continue, one consequence will become evident come the harvest season, when crops are likely to yield from 30 to 50 percent less than planned.

From June 17 until July 16, average daily temperatures in Serbia ranged from 18 to 26 degrees centigrade - which is from 3.5 to six degrees higher than normal.

Dacić, who today addressed the Agriculture Committee of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce (PKS), described this as "alarming".

During the same period of time, he further explained, the rainfall amounted only to 20 percent of the average expected amount.

The fact that night-time temperatures did not drop below 20 degrees centigrade for a substantial period of time meant that "plants could not recover from the heat stress".

However, he also noted that in the past 10 to 12 years "one third passed in extreme droughts", and asserted that this was proof that "climate changes are already taking place", and that the citizens should be aware that the future holds "climate extremes, including strong droughts and intensive precipitation".

The 2000 drought cost the Serbian agriculture industry some USD 700mn in damages, while in 2003, the figure reached almost a billion dollars.

Some rainfall is expected from July 23 until 29, but Dacić warned it would be "modest". The rain will alleviate the problem, "but won't help the agriculture much".

This weather is set to continue until August 10, he also stated, and revealed that when it comes to the temperatures measured in southern Serbia, 2012 turned out to be the hottest year since 1888.

Meanwhile, the current drought has halved Serbia's crop production, and the damage estimates state a figure of USD 2.1bn, Serbian Chamber of Commerce (PKS) expert Vojislav Stanković said on Wednesday.

Serbia was also hit by a drought last summer and fall, which was followed by a winter of extremely cold weather.