Amazon drought reduces river grain shipment levels by more than expected

The severe drought in the Amazon region has affected shipments of grain to a degree that has caught the industry by surprise,  according to Hidrovias do Brasil, which has posted numbers lower than had been anticipated.

“The situation escalated very abruptly”, said CEO Fabio Abreu Schettino said, noting that the company had been unable to move some barges filled with corn, soybeans and other grains.

Hidrovias do Brasil operates along the Northern Arc, a sequence of ports along the Amazon and northeastern Atlantic coast that transports crops from farms in central Brazil.

The company’s own measurements at one of the rivers in the region found that water levels were about 40% lower than they were in the same period last year.

Hidrovias said that it expected water levels to recover in the coming months, by the Amazon drought has impacted Brazil’s entire logistics system. Grain exports are being rerouted to ports in the southeast, but these are now becoming overcrowded. With farmers harvesting bumper crops of grains and a record sugar crop, ships are now waiting for as much as 40 days to load sugar at Brazil’s largest port.