China: Drought and floods impact food prices
The winter of 2010 has seen China going through severe drought as rainfall became scarce since last September in certain regions. Areas hit the hardest are those stretched along the Yangtze River in the south-west of the country and some territories up north, especially in theShangdong region where the world’s largest production of wheat is generated.
For months the Chinese landscape has been defined by large cracked earth lands and murky depleted river streams. The New York Times described the event as “the driest winter in perhaps 200 years”. Chinese military were mobilized to deliver water reserves to the most drought-inflicted areas.
The March rain and snowfall in Henan andShangdong were a great relief for farmers as planted wheat were coming out of their hibernation after losing devastatingly large portions of crops earlier in the year. Whereas drought still persists in certain northern areas, central and southern provinces are hit by a series of torrential rain this month causing the worst flooding in 55 years.
The National Meteorological Center warned for a new storm to hit Guangdong last Wednesday night, according to Xinhua News. The tropical storm Haima is reported to bring further downpour to Fujian, Hainan and parts of Taiwan. A typhoon alarm has been issued by the Center.
The Guardian confirmed torrents to have displaced 860,000 people, 132 were killed in the process, with the BBC estimating 5 million people to be affected by current floodwater. Reporting from Hong Kong, BERNAMA, the Malaysian National News Service, raises the numbers to 175 dead and 86 missing.
Extreme weather conditions are already affecting food prices. BERNAMA notes that 20% decrease in vegetable output and greater food costs contributed to the 5.5% consumer price rise, while continuous CPI growth reaches 11.7% and plays 65% into overall inflation.
Quoted by the Associated Press, the flood control agency said that “recent flooding has destroyed 600,000 acres of farmland and caused 1,846 companies to stop production in Zhejiang, incurring 7.69 billion yuan ($1.19 billion) in direct economic losses”.