August 29, 2022
China's farmers told to replant or change crops following a prolonged drought
Farmers in China are evaluating the effects of a protracted drought as the country's record heatwave begins to abate, and the government is advising them to replant or switch crops where they can, Reuters reported.
The Yangtze River basin, which provides water for over 450 million people and a third of the nation's crops, has been devastated by more than 70 days of extreme heat and low rainfall.
Although rain is predicted over the next ten days in Jiangxi province, central China, near the depleted Poyang Lake, which is typically a flood outlet for the Yangtze, farmers are concerned that the heat has already done too much damage.
Farmers were urged by the agriculture ministry to harvest and store rice on Tuesday as well as take steps to support grain growth in the upcoming weeks. Farmers are urged to switch to late-autumn crops in areas where the drought has already caused significant damage, but that is not an easy task.
The agriculture ministry warned local governments to "do everything possible" to find more water on Tuesday, saying the hot weather posed a "serious threat" to autumn grain production.
State broadcaster CCTV said firefighters were mobilised in other Yangtze River regions to spray parched crops while drones were used in Sichuan, China's most severely affected province, to seed clouds and bring rain.
After more than two weeks of temperatures above 40°C, Chongqing and Sichuan province in the southwest are suffering from crop damage, forest fires, and power outages.
The Yangtze's lower reaches, including Zhejiang and Jiangsu on the eastern coast, have also been impacted by the river's low rainfall.
Despite the Yangtze River being diverted by 500 million cubic metres since mid-July, the water levels at Lake Tai, which is sandwiched between the two provinces, have dropped to their lowest levels in 20 years, the Ministry of Water Resources reported.
On August 11, the water ministry of China reported that the drought had already affected 350,000 livestock and nearly 33 million mu (22,000 square kilometres) of arable land, but the final toll is likely to be much higher.