As harvest time approaches, China orders farmers to replant or change crops

As harvest time approaches, China orders farmers to replant or change crops
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NANJANG, China, Aug 25 (Reuters) – As a record heat wave in China begins to wane, farmers are assessing the toll of a prolonged drought and the government is urging them to plant or change crops where possible.

More than 70 days of extreme temperatures and low rainfall have wreaked havoc across the Yangtze Basin, which supplies more than 450 million people and a third of the country’s crops.

Although rain is expected over the next 10 days, farmers near the depleted Poyang Lake in central China’s Jiangxi province, which is usually the overflow point for the Yangtze, are worried that the heat is already taking its toll.

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In an emergency notice on Tuesday, the Agriculture Ministry urged farmers to collect and store rice and take measures to boost grain growth in the coming weeks. In areas where drought has already taken a heavy toll, farmers are being advised to switch to late-fall crops like sweet potatoes, but it’s not an easy task.

“Because there is no land, we cannot switch to other crops,” said Hu Baolin, 70, in a village on the outskirts of Nanchang, the capital city of Jiangxi province.

He said his crops, including canola and sesame, were underdeveloped compared to normal years, and his grapefruits were only a third of their usual size.

Nearby wells were severely depleted, and about 10 days ago, gas was drilled around a completely dry pond. Villagers were also fighting the fire nearby.

“Don’t let people see this and I brought you here on purpose. You can go wherever you want (in this village), that’s how it is.”

The Agriculture Ministry said on Tuesday that the hot weather posed a “serious threat” to winter grain production and called on local governments to “do everything possible” to find more water. read more

In China’s worst-hit southwest Sichuan province on Thursday, drones were deployed to disperse clouds and cause rain, while other regions along the Yangtze mobilized firefighters to disperse dry vegetation, state broadcaster CCTV said.

Analysts found rice production to be the most vulnerable.

“I think the biggest impact of the heatwave will be on the rice crop – maize is also having problems, but not as much,” said Ole Houe, director of advisory services at agricultural broker IKON Commodities in Sydney.

China, the world’s largest consumer and importer of rice, was expected to import a record 6 million tonnes in 2022/23, according to US Department of Agriculture estimates.


The southwestern provinces of Chongqing and Sichuan are reeling after more than two weeks of temperatures exceeding 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) – causing crop damage, forest fires and power cuts. read more

Factories in Chongqing were initially ordered to limit production from August. 24 to 24 overnight to conserve electricity until August 17, but the curbs have now been extended and normal operations will not resume until the weather improves and authorities allow a restart. read more

Although national forecasters downgraded the heat warning level from “red” to “orange” from Tuesday, temperatures are still expected to exceed 40C in some places in Chongqing, neighboring Sichuan and other parts of the Yangtze Delta by the end of the week.

Low rainfall has also affected the lower reaches of the Yangtze, including Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces on the east coast.

Water levels in Lake Tay, sandwiched between the two provinces, have fallen to their lowest level in 20 years, despite 500 million cubic meters of Yangtze River water being replaced since mid-July, the Ministry of Water Resources said Thursday.

China’s Ministry of Water announced this in August. 11, the drought has already affected about 33 million mu (22,000 square kilometers) of cropland and 350,000 livestock, but the final impact is likely to be greater.

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Reporting by Xiaoyu Yin and Thomas Peter in Nanchang and Naveen Thukral in Singapore; Additional reporting by Beijing newsroom; Written by David Stanway; Lincoln Feast, edited by Tom Hogue and Elaine Hardcastle

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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