About 75% of China's annual grain production occurs in the autumn, and up until the drought slowly began to set in in July, China had intended to produce more than 650 billion kg this year.
BEIJING: A joint statement from many Chinese ministries and agencies stated on Tuesday that the country's prolonged heatwave, which is the nation's longest, most intense, and covering the widest landmass since 1961, has presented a "serious threat" to the autumn grain production and that the situation is dire.
About 75% of China's yearly grain production occurs in the autumn, and up until the drought slowly began to set in starting in July, China had intended to produce more than 650 billion kg this year. Given the seriousness of the circumstance, that seems doubtful.
Since late July, there have been prolonged periods of high temperatures without rain in several southern regions, as well as the broadest effect area and highest average temperature intensity since 1961. According to a joint statement from the agriculture and rural welfare ministry and the water resources ministry, among others, "the drought, advanced fast, together with high temperatures and heat damage, represents a major threat to the work on agricultural drought-resistance and disaster-reduction.
To maintain national food security and the autumn grain harvest, the notice stated that all departments must "share the political duty of securing national food security."
China has been experiencing a severe drought for several weeks.
Tuesday was the 12th day in a row that China's National Meteorological Center has continued to issue red alerts for high temperatures, the most serious warning in China's four-tier color-coded weather warning system.
According to the water resources ministry, approximately 821,000 hectares of farmland have been affected by the drought since July in several provinces, including Sichuan, Chongqing, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, and Anhui.
According to weather predictions, heatwaves in some areas may linger until late August, a vital time for the growth of autumn grain, creating difficulties for the nation's production of autumn grain, which accounts for around 75% of China's annual grain output.
The Sichuan province in southwest China and the neighboring Chongqing municipality have been particularly hard struck by the prolonged dry spell and high temperatures.
Even as the municipality continues to battle bushfires in hilly areas, the state-run Global Times reported on Tuesday that "Chongqing turned off lights of its iconic scenic area to overcome dilemmas such as power shortages and wilting crops, residents kept their hands off unnecessary electronic appliances, and the government ramped up efforts to irrigate crops."
On Tuesday, the heatwave in the Sichuan province persisted, increasing the demand for electricity while the area's manufacturing facilities remained closed.
"While the warmth increased demand for air conditioning, Sichuan's power supply has been negatively impacted by drought because the region gets around 80% of its electricity from hydropower. Local authorities claim that since the beginning of August, water flows have decreased to half their usual amount, according to the news website Caixin.
In the meantime, according to Global Times, aerial pictures and satellite images released by Chinese state-run media have revealed: "tree-shape landscapes in certain sections of Poyang Lake, China's largest freshwater lake, in Nanchang, east China's Jiangxi province, demonstrating another alarming sign of the most severe drought China faces in six decades."
"The water area of Poyang Lake measured approximately 11.13 square kilometers and has decreased by nearly 66% compared to the area of the previous month," the National Satellite Meteorological Center (NSMC) reported.
Affected farmlands in the area no longer have access to irrigation systems due to Poyang Lake's drying up.