The El Niño that damaged crop production throughout Asia and caused food shortages, and was also the strongest in nearly 20 years has officially ended, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said on 24 May.

The El Niño first emerged in 2015; higher sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific caused a rise in temperatures in Asia and east Africa and heavy rains and floods in South America.

A fall in palm oil production in Indonesia and Malaysia was blamed on El Niño, and the exceptionally hot and dry conditions it caused.

Dr James Fry, chairman of LMC International, said that El Niño would cause a 2M tonne decline in world CPO outlook in 2016.

According to BOM, climate indicators associated with the weather phenomenon have now returned to neutral levels.

Such a revelation was not unexpected, as indicators had shown cooling in the last few months, however BOM was the first to officially declare El Niño to have ended.

Despite the good news, farmers are worried about the development of La Niña, which would bring the opposite conditions to Asia with much wetter weather.

According to BOM, the chance of La Niña developing is currently at 50%.

The outcome of La Niña could be worse for some regions that a typical El Niño, Bloomberg said, and could badly affect palm oil output in Malaysia in particular. It would cause a further reduction in CPO production of 0.4M tonnes, Dr James Fry added.