Worst drought in half a century hits China’s bread-basket

Thursday, August 14, 2014
By Paul Martin

By Laura He
MarketWatch.com
Aug. 13, 2014

HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — China’s worst drought in half a century is sweeping across crucial agricultural regions, devastating harvests in its wake and threatening food security.

Part of the area hit by unusually dry weather — the northeastern Manchurian Plain — is known as China’s bread-basket, supplying much of the country’s corn, wheat and soybean production.

In a portion of the plain, in Jilin province, 10 major grain producing counties are facing the lowest rainfall since 1951, and many corn fields are facing “zero harvest,” according to report by the state-run Xinhua New Agency, citing Jilin’s provincial weather bureau.

Next door in Liaoning province, there has been no rain at all since late July.

And with Jilin government meteorologist Yang Xueyan warning that the situation will likely get worse in the near future, concern over the drought has sent local corn futures rising more than 4% in less than two week, First Financial Daily reported Friday.

But the crisis isn’t confined to the Manchurian Plain alone — according to state broadcaster CCTV, the drought is impacting more than one-third of China.

This includes the central Chinese province of Henan, another agriculturally important area, which has seen the weakest flood season in 53 years, leaving some rural communities with no viable drinking water, let alone water needed for irrigation, for as long as three months, CCTV said.

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