As harvest time approaches, China tells farmers to replant or switch crops

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NANCHANG, China, Aug 25 (Reuters) – As China’s record heatwave begins to ease, farmers are assessing the damage caused by a prolonged drought and the government is urging them to replant or change crops where they need it. can.

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

Although rains are expected in the next 10 days, farmers near impoverished Poyang Lake in central China’s Jiangxi Province, normally an outlet for the Yangtze, fear the heat has already done too much damage.

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The Ministry of Agriculture, in an emergency notice issued on Tuesday, called on farmers to harvest and store rice and take measures to boost grain growth in the coming weeks. In areas where drought has already inflicted heavy damage, farmers are being encouraged to switch to late fall crops like sweet potatoes, but it’s no easy task.

“We cannot move to other crops because there is no land,” said Hu Baolin, a 70-year-old farmer in a village on the outskirts of Nanchang, the provincial capital of Jiangxi.

He said his plants, including rapeseed oil and sesame, were much less developed than normal years and his pomelos were only a third of their usual size.

Nearby wells were badly depleted and a flock of geese gathered around a pond which had completely dried up about 10 days ago. The villagers had also been battling a nearby bushfire.

“Don’t let people see it and think I brought you here on purpose. You can go anywhere you want (in this village), it’s the same.”

The Department of Agriculture said on Tuesday the hot weather posed a “serious threat” to fall grain production and urged local governments to “do everything possible” to find more water. Read more

Drones were deployed to China’s worst-hit province of Sichuan in southwest China on Thursday to sow clouds and cause rain, while other areas along the Yangtze have mobilized firefighters to spray parched crops, state broadcaster CCTV said.

Analysts saw rice production as the most vulnerable.

“I think the biggest impact of the heat wave is going to be on the rice crop – maize is also having issues but not that 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, is already set to import a record 6 million tonnes in 2022/23, according to US Department of Agriculture estimates.

EXTENDED ELECTRIC CURBS

Chongqing and southwestern Sichuan province are reeling after more than two weeks of temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) – causing crop damage, wildfires and food rationing. ‘electricity. Read more

Chongqing factories were originally ordered to restrict production from Aug. 17 to Aug. 24 to save energy, but the restrictions have now been extended and normal operations will not resume until weather conditions improve. will not improve and the authorities will not have approved the restart. Read more

Although national forecasters reduced their heat alert level from ‘red’ to ‘orange’ from Tuesday, temperatures are still expected to exceed 40C in parts of Chongqing, neighboring Sichuan and other parts. from the Yangtze Delta until the weekend.

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

Water levels in Lake Tai, sandwiched between the two provinces, have fallen to their lowest level in 20 years despite the diversion of 500 million cubic meters of the Yangtze River since mid-July, the ministry said Thursday. of water resources.

China’s Ministry of Water said on August 11 that the drought had already affected nearly 33 million mu (22,000 square kilometers) of arable land and 350,000 head of livestock, but the final impact is likely to be much greater. .

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

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