When a main crop in a particular region is hit hard by weather, insect, or natural disaster, the economic consequences for that region and other regions can be devastating. This is especially true in the Middle East where a tomato shortage has occurred due to two main factors: the extreme heat and the leafminer, a type of tomato pest that loves to eat the leaves of tomato plants, of which they have been doing plenty of in the Middle East over the past several weeks.
This has caused the prices of tomatoes to skyrocket, bringing much hardship to the lower income families of Jordan, Egypt, Israel, Syria, and Lebanon. Many Egyptian wives are using ketchup and food coloring in their traditional dishes to make up for the shortage of tomatoes.
There are differing views on whether the prices will drop back to more reasonable levels any time soon. President of the Jordanian Farmers Union (JFU), Ahmad Faour told The Jordan Times that the severe shortage of tomatoes has been quite damaging to the region, but that he expects the prices to drop soon because tomato plants in other areas of the region were not affected by either the heat or the pest, thereby filling the great need for tomatoes.
Anwar Haddad, an agriculture expert and executive director of the Jordan Exporters and Producers Association for Fruit and Vegetables was not as optimistic because he doesn’t believe that the plants that made it through the heat and the pest can fully sustain the high demand in the region for tomatoes.
Additionally, the Kingdom of Jordan will not be able to export as many tomatoes this year as in past years, which will also hurt them economically.
Similarly, the United States has had trouble with main crops, particularly with rice. The rice harvest in 2010 is expected to be 10% less than what was estimated. This could cause prices to rise by as much as 30%.
The hot weather in the Midwest is the main culprit, as this curbed yields and lowered milling rates. Being that the United States was the fourth-leading exporter of rice in the world in 2009, this could cause significant economic damage to a country that is still trying to economically recover after the latest recession that has left nearly 10% of the population out of work and the housing market still remaining weak.
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For information about problems that affect orchids, here are 5 Warning Signs Your Orchids are in Trouble.