2% of the world’s rarest zebras wiped out in Kenya’s relentless drought.
‘We did not take the decision to go out for four very sad months’
This is in stark contrast to the situation in South America when farmers in Argentina are so desperate that they are taking advantage of the current drought in the Amazon to cut down on water supplies to the cattle sector, which accounts for roughly 50% of their exports as well as their incomes.
In Argentina the cattle sector is especially fragile, because the country is considered one of the world’s ‘bread basket’ countries and it is not unusual for a farmer to lose two to three years of livestock.
Since the drought started, more than 30 million cattle have died, but despite that, cattle exports from Argentina have not been impacted by the drought at all, it was only when the Argentine cattle sector had started to dry up completely that there was a mass emigration of people to other parts of Argentina and other countries in the region.
“We did not take the decision to go out for four very sad months,” says José Luis Pizarro, the head of the Animal Welfare and Meat Inspection Superintendence for Argentina.
“We were making big savings in meat processing plants, so that we could export a little meat, but with a huge amount of other meat coming in to replace it, so we needed to make some cuts.
He says that as soon as the drought actually hit, the livestock industry in Argentina changed from being highly profitable to one that was essentially almost non-existent: “At the end of that fourth month, our livestock were reduced to almost zero and we had to start importing the entire amount of meat that we were going to sell that month, which is around 15,000 tonnes of cattle and 10,000 tonnes of sheep.
“We had to start importing all that meat so that it would feed the rural population for months and months after the drought ends. And it has been more than three years now without any rain, there is no rain, and we are continuing to import more meat and even live animals in order to be able to feed the local population, and even for our workers, who are still working on the farms.”