Drought in China threatening food production

Drought in China is threatening food production, prompting the government to order local authorities to take all available measures to ensure crops survive the hottest summer on record, media reports said.

On Tuesday, four government departments issued an urgent joint emergency notice, warning that the autumn harvest is under “severe threat”, The Guardian reported.

It urged local authorities to ensure “every unit of water be used carefully”, and called for measures included staggered irrigation, diversion of new water sources, and cloud seeding.

A record-breaking heatwave combined with a months-long drought during the usual flood season has wreaked havoc across China’s usually water-rich southern region.

It has dried up parts of the Yangtze river along with dozens of tributaries, drastically affecting hydropower capacity and causing rolling blackouts and power rationing as demand for electricity spikes. There is now concern about future food supply, The Guardian reported.

Even Pay, an analyst at Trivium China who specialises in agriculture, said her immediate concern is for fresh produce.

“The kinds of fresh vegetables that supply the local markets where people buy their produce each day – that’s the category that is least likely to be in a major irrigation area, and which is not likely to be strategically prioritised in a national push to protect grain and oil feeds,” she said.

Pay said the concerns were mainly domestic, and that categories of food that would affect the global markets were “keeping pretty safe”. But she said attention should be paid to rapeseed if the drought was still going when crops are planted in the autumn.

China is now relying more heavily on its own corn production – 4 per cent of which was grown in drought affected Sichuan and Anhui – after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine drastically destabilised global supplies, The Guardian reported.

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