ROME (AP) — Nearly 5 million people could starve in northeast Brazil if the nation’s worst drought in 15 years continues through December as forecast, a U.N. agency reported Monday.
The region is a virtual desert after having little or no rain over the last six months, the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization said.
Production of rice and beans — staples of the local diet — have dropped by as much as 80 percent in some areas, the agency said. Corn production is down by as much as 90 percent in some areas, and other crops, such as coffee and sugar cane, are also severely affected.
Although droughts are not unusual in the northeast, experts say the El Ni¤o weather phenomenon has exacerbated the situation.