July 25, 2011


Droughts threaten crops and fish farming in China


Back-to-back droughts in parts of China, some of the worst encountered in the past five decades, have challenged aquaculture, wheat and early rice production in the country.


The spring and winter droughts in 2010-11 are being followed by summer floods in southern and eastern China which are disrupting vegetable supplies and mid-season rice plantings.


The overall impact of the natural disruptions has been moderate so far, but further droughts and flooding are inevitable and China will face increasing pressure to feed its population with less land and water available, a Rabobank report said.


However, the severe weather conditions are unlikely to lead to rising food prices or a major deterioration of China's crop production, it added.


The winter drought hit northern parts of China in the provinces of Hebei, Shanxi, Shandong, Henan and Jiangsu. Wheat losses were reduced by a new irrigation system and it seems China has harvested more than 90% of its winter wheat crops with no production losses reported.


The spring drought in central and eastern regions is estimated to have affected seven million hectares of farmland in important rice and fish growing areas along the middle and low reaches of the Yangtze River.


Chinese news reports said 432,000 hectares of vegetable crops were destroyed by flooding and some rice paddy areas were hit. However, major vegetable producing provinces were not affected, Rabobank said.


"Local price spikes due to the shortage will likely be regional and short-lived as unaffected regions will fill the gap."


However, land in the Yangtze River basin is expected to benefit from the flooding.

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