Chinese farmers suffer as crops wither in a searing drought

Chinese farmers suffer as crops wither in a searing drought  — Hundreds of persimmon trees that should be laden with golden fruit have wilting in the greenhouse of Gan Bingdong in southern China, contributing to the country’s rising agriculture losses during the hottest and driest summer in six decades.

In temperatures as high as 41 degrees Celsius (106 degrees Fahrenheit) and a drought that has reduced the massive Yangtze River and wilted crops across central China, Gan’s farm south of the industrial city of Chongqing lost half of its vegetable harvest. The remaining eggplants of Gan are hardly larger than strawberries. A dry reservoir next to his land has forced him to pump groundwater.

The high temperatures this year are quite irritating, said Gan. Saturday, the national meteorological bureau said that drought conditions spanning a stretch of China from the heavily populated east to the central agricultural regions and eastern Tibet had “seriously intensified.”

From Jiangsu and Anhui provinces northwest of Shanghai to Chongqing and Sichuan provinces east of Tibet, the prediction was for high temperatures and no precipitation for at least three further days.

The meteorological office instructed local authorities to “use all accessible water sources” to serve families and animals.

The greatest effect has been seen in Sichuan, where industries have been shut down and businesses and shopping malls have been instructed to switch off their air conditioning because reservoirs used to produce hydropower have dropped to half their typical levels.

80 percent of the province’s energy is generated by hydroelectric dams.

Chinese farmers suffer as crops wither in a searing drought
Chinese farmers suffer as crops wither in a searing drought

Until Saturday, factories producing processor chips for cellphones, car components, solar panels, and other industrial items were closed for at least six days. Some claim that production will decrease, while others assert that consumer supplies would not be impacted.

President Xi Jinping, the country’s most powerful leader in decades, is preparing to attempt to break with precedent and grant himself a third five-year term as leader at a conference in October or November. The shutdowns add to the difficulties for the governing Communist Party.

In July, manufacturing production and retail sales growth slowed, delaying China’s economic rebound after Shanghai and other industrial areas were shut down to combat viral outbreaks beginning in late March.

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In the first half of 2022, the economy increased by just 2.5% over the previous year, which is less than half the declared yearly objective of 5.5%.

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