ASUNCION, PARAGUAY — A historic drought in Paraguay has left water in the Paraguay River at critical levels, forcing many grain ships and vessels in the region to load at only around half capacity, according to a Reuters article.

Industry observers told Reuters that many cargo holds on ships have been left empty and travel times in many cases were being delayed, leaving farmers in Paraguay to hold on to grains for longer than anticipated.

“The situation is critical and delicate,” César Jure, president of the Paraguayan Chamber of Cereal and Oilseed Exporters, told Reuters. “A large proportion of cargo holds are going unused, which translates into a direct cost when it comes to taking the products to the River Plate (estuary in Argentina).”

The drought is expected to last until at least 2022, Reuters noted, forcing grains exporters to search out alternative forms of shipment.

“At the end of the year we will still have an inventory of merchandise to export, both for industry and for soybeans,” Jure told Reuters. “The new crop will have to wait in silos until we can release the old one.”