Five Million Tonnes Of Grain Lost Due To China Drought

Rice farmer Hu Zizhong shows his drought damaged rice crop and cracks in the rice terrace soil, at Tieshi village, Chongqing Municipality on 20 August 2006. The worst drought in southwest China in half a century has severely impacted local farms, causing a combined loss of five million tonnes of grain, state media said.(AFP/File/Mark Ralston)

CHINA: August 25, 2006

BEIJING - A drought in southwest China, the worst in 50 years, has led to the loss of five million tonnes of grain and damaged more than two million hectares (7,700 sq miles) of farmland, state media said on Thursday.

Sichuan province was helping farmers plant crops like potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams which can be harvested later in the year to make up for the grain shortage, one provincial agricultural official told Reuters.

Most of the damaged crops was rice, officials said. State media has estimated that the drought, which has also hit neighbouring Chongqing, has cost farmers more than US$1 billion. It has not said whether there have been any deaths.

More than half Sichuan's counties were drought-stricken and almost 10 million people had restricted access to drinking water, the newspaper said. It quoted a scientist as saying that a gas leak in March in Chongqing that forced the evacuation of 5,000 people could have intensified the drought, as methane caused a mini-greenhouse effect, raising temperatures. But another scientist said it was purely a weather-related drought and had nothing to do with methane.

This week, an agricultural official told Reuters the drought had helped push up prices for vegetables, poultry and pork, though it had yet to affect grain. The drought has been so severe that the government is helping 100,000 farmers move to the far-western region of Xinjiang to pick cotton after their own fields withered.

And the dry weather is causing water levels in China's largest freshwater lake, the Poyang, in southeastern Jiangxi province, to fall as it is fed by the Yangtze which flows through Sichuan.Grain analysts say the total rice harvest this year is likely to grow from last year's 180 million tonnes because of acreage expansion in the northeast. "Northeast provinces have increased their rice acreage by a big margin, which can offset the losses," said one analyst at the China National Grains and Oils Information Centre. "The weather in the northeast is pretty good."
About Poyang Lake, China's largest freshwater lake:
Poyang Lake

But this is what people are having to do more and more in China:

For even though water may at times be abundant, it is too toxic to use.

And from China Daily:
Water Level Of The Yangtzee Continues To Fall

And humans are not the only ones who depend on this lake:
More Bird Species Wintering in Poyang Lake