China says it will try to protect its grain harvest by using chemicals to make much needed rain.
This year has been the hottest, driest summer in several parts of China in 61 years. That was when the government began recording rainfall and temperature. Now, crops are failing. And water supplies, called reservoirs, are at half their normal level.
The coming days are a very important “period of damage resistance” for southern China’s rice crop, said Agriculture Minister Tang Renjian. His comments were reported by the newspaper Global Times.
The newspaper said officials must take emergency steps to protect the “autumn grain harvest.” Tang said that harvest is 75 percent of China’s yearly total.
Officials will “try to increase rain” by seeding clouds with chemicals. They will also treat crops with a chemical that limits the loss of water, Tang’s ministry said on its website. It gave no details of where that would be done.
A smaller Chinese grain harvest could affect the world. It would increase demand in international markets. Increased demand could increase inflation in the United States and Europe. Inflation in both areas is at its highest level in many years.
Water shortages are also affecting factories in the southwest of China. Factories in Sichuan province were shut down last week to save power for homes. With temperatures as high as 45 degrees Celsius, the demand for indoor cooling, or air-conditioning, has increased greatly.
Thousands of factories in Sichuan province are waiting to find out if additional closures will be ordered. Those factories make solar panels, computer processor chips, and other industrial goods.
Sichuan has been hardest hit by drought. The area gets 80 percent of its power from hydroelectric dams. The provincial government says reservoirs are at half of normal levels. It earlier called on factories and businesses to “leave power for the people.”
Offices and shopping centers in Sichuan were ordered to turn off lights and air-conditioning. Subway stations in Chengdu, the provincial capital, were ordered to turn off thousands of lights.
The ruling Communist Party is trying to improve poor economic growth before a meeting in October or November. That is when President Xi Jinping is expected to seek a third five-year term as leader.
The government in Hubei province recently declared a drought emergency. It said it would release disaster aid.
In addition to energy shortages, the government in Sichuan province said 819,000 people face a shortage of drinking water there.
The governments of Sichuan and neighboring Hubei province say thousands of hectares of crops are a total loss and millions have been damaged.
But, other areas in China have suffered deadly sudden floods.
Flooding in the northwestern province of Qinghai killed at least 26 people and left five missing. China’s state television broadcast this story on August 21 using information from local officials.
I’m Anna Matteo.
Mark Schiefelbein reported on this story for the Associated Press. Anna Matteo adapted the story for VOA Learning English.
Words in This Story
reservoir –n. a man-made lake for storing water
air-conditioning –n. a system used to cool air in a building
drought –n. a period of extremely dry weather
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