World ‘I lost £40,000 worth of crops in a field fire’
Egypt's small farms play big role but struggle to survive
Egyptian smallholders grow nearly half of the country's crops, a lifeline role increasingly important after grain imports were stalled by war in Ukraine -- but they are struggling to survive. Despite their crucial role providing food for the North African nation's 103 million people, smallholders are cash-strapped and indebted, frequently selling their harvests at a loss. "The farmer is dead, trampled," farmer Zakaria Aboueldahab told AFP, brewing tea on his rented plot of wheat and onions in Qalyubia, 30 kilometres (18 miles) north of Cairo.
People are being urged to take extra care to avoid causing fires in the countryside during hot weather, with some farmers saying they have lost thousands of pounds worth of crops.
The National Farmers' Union (NFU) said fires were one of the biggest risks faced by farmers during heatwaves.
One farmer told the BBC he lost around £40,000 worth of crops when one of his fields went up in flames last week.
The, with thermometers hitting 40.3C in Lincolnshire and more than 30 places reaching temperatures above the previous record.
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David Exwood, vice president of the NFU, said even as the weather gets cooler, the lack of rain has increased the risk of field fires.
"There needs to be extreme care when people are out in the countryside because anything can catch fire in this weather," he said.
Andy Barr, who owns an 800-acre farm in Lenham, Kent, had a 50-acre field of barley destroyed by a fire last Saturday.
Although he is hoping to claim on insurance, Mr Barr said the crop was worth around £40,000.
He said it was a huge shock to watch his hard work go up in flames.
"You spend a year growing it and you really like to see the fruits of your labour this time of year. So that was very disappointing," he said.
This ‘Extreme’ Wildfire Is Now California’s Biggest of the Year
The first signs of progress in battling the Oak fire raging just outside California’s Yosemite Park came Monday, with the state’s main firefighting agency reporting the flames are now 10 percent contained. But that hasn’t eased the worries of those in Mariposa County, where the fire has already ravaged 17,000 acres of land. Emmanuel Chavez, a spokesman for Cal Fire, told The Daily Beast the fire’s behavior is still “erratic,” with his colleagues struggling to evacuate thousands of people as the flames exploded to become the state’s largest fire of the year in less than three days. Chavez said the homes of more than 3,000 people are in immediate danger.
"But I have got over the shock now and we've just got the slightly concerning times to see what the insurers come up with."
Mr Barr was also grateful to the firefighters and neighbours who helped stop the fire spreading further by ploughing crops that had not yet gone up in flames to make a fire break.
Rural insurer NFU Mutual said the majority of farmers insured their buildings, machinery and crops, and said it had seen a "marked rise" in claims for farm fires during the heatwave in recent weeks.
Last year it estimated the cost of farm fire claims to be in excess of £70m.
It urged people not to drop used matches or cigarettes, not to use disposable barbecues on grass or moorland and not to drop litter as discarded bottles can focus sunlight and start a fire.
The NFU's David Exwood said the dry, hot weather was also leading to reduced yields and quality of some crops such as potatoes, sugar beet and maize.
Iraqi Kurd farmers battle drought as Lake Dukan retreats
Farmers in Iraqi Kurdistan seeking to irrigate crops face seeing their economic lifeline slip away as the waters of Lake Dukan recede and dams upstream in Iran stem the flow. Bapir Kalkani, who is also a trade unionist, farms near the picturesque lake but has seen marked changes over the past three years as Iraq suffers prolonged drought. "There was water where I'm standing now" in 2019, the 56-year-old said. "It used to go three kilometres (two miles) further, but the level has retreated."Sesame and beans are being grown on the plain under a blazing sun, adjacent to the lake which is fed by a Tigris tributary, the Lower Zab river which has its source in Iran.
He said this could lead to shortages of some products on shop shelves in the short term and increased prices for customers.
The longer the dry weather continues, the greater the impact, he added.
On his own farm in Sussex, Mr Exwood said his maize was struggling due to the lack of rain and he expected a "dramatically reduced yield", which could cost him tens of thousands of pounds.
Hannah Buisman, who works on her parents' farm near St Albans in Hertfordshire, said they had also seen reduced yields of hay and cereal crops due to the heat.
She said this was hitting the farm financially, at a time when costs for things like energy were going up.
Ms Buisman said the family had also put off combining crops last week because they felt it was too dangerous in the hot weather. If combines hit a bottle left in a field or flint it can strike a flame and cause a fire, she explained.
She urged people not to leave litter in fields, adding that a neighbouring farm had lost 240 acres of crops in a fire.
"It's a worst nightmare, especially in years as volatile as these," she said.
More women facing hunger than men as gender gap widens for food insecurity, report says .
A CARE International report finds 150 million more women than men were food insecure in 2021 — that's eight times higher than in 2018 — as the pandemic, climate change and the war in Ukraine affect global food supply chains."I'm head of a big household. I was a teacher. We lived on a 4,000 to 5,000 Afghanis ($64-$80) monthly salary, but now we live with big problems," she told humanitarian non-government organisation CARE International.