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Shipping agents in Brazil caution clients of drought impacting corn shipping on barges, Reuters reports.

Drought Disrupts Corn Shipping in the Amazon Rainforest

Severe drought impacting barge traffic on the Tapajos river

A severe drought is causing significant disruptions to barge traffic on the Tapajos river in the Amazon rainforest, affecting Brazil’s corn export season. Shipping agencies have informed their clients about the challenges posed by the dry season in the region.

Restricted navigation and reduced barge convoys

Due to the dry season in the Amazon River, navigation on the Tapajos River has become restricted. Shipping agent Alphamar has reported that barge convoys are smaller than usual, and in some cases, barges are reducing their loads by about 50% to ensure safe navigation. Cargonave, another agent, highlighted that the vessel MV Bravery, scheduled to load corn in Para state, has been affected by the lack of logistics.

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Low water levels and reduced loads

Private ports along the banks of the Tapajos river are experiencing the lowest water levels ever recorded, according to Cargonave data. Amport, a group representing Amazonian private port operators, has revealed that barge convoys on the Madeira river and Tapajos river are reducing their loads by 50% and 40% respectively. While load reduction is normal during the dry season, the current proportions are higher than usual.

Challenges for barge operators

Barge operator Hidrovias do Brasil has acknowledged the critical and rapidly changing scenario caused by the drought. However, the company has assured that its barges are running with about two-thirds of capacity on the Tapajos, which is sufficient for navigability at this time. The main seaports receiving grain cargos from inland rivers, such as Itacoatiara, Santarem, and Barcarena, are still operating normally despite the challenges.

Drought impact and future projections

Amport predicts that despite the effects of the drought, there will be a 25% increase in vegetable bulk transportation through Brazilian Amazonian river and seaports in 2023 compared to 2022. The low water levels and reduced barge loads have posed challenges, but the industry remains optimistic about meeting the demand for corn exports.

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