(emphasis mine) [my comment]
Worst Drought in a Millenium Creates Severe Food Shortages
Regime pledges five cents per person for relief
Epoch Times Staff Created: Mar 25, 2010 Last Updated: Mar 25, 2010
Beijing News has reported that drought has now seriously impacted the provinces of Guangxi, Sichuan, Guizhou, Yunnan, the city of Chongqing, and the surrounding areas, affecting 61.3 million people, according to a disaster briefing released by the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs on March 23.
A farmer in a completely dry pond in Guiyang City, Guizhou Province. (AFP)
Villagers carry empty pails down a mountain in Sichuan Province. (Getty Images)
Buffaloes in a dry riverbed in Shilin County, Kunming City, Yunnan Province, on Feb. 24. (Getty Images)
A boy and his empty pail in Yunnan Province. (AFP)
A waterless reservoir in Green Pool Dame at Shilin County, Kunming City, Yunnan Province on February 2. (Getty Images)
Villagers digging at a 158 year old well that no longer gives water in Guizhou Province. (Getty Images)
The drinking water supply for 18 million people, and water for 11.7 million large livestock and five million hectares (12.5 million acres) of farmland are compromised. More than 1.15 million hectares (2.9 million acres) of farmland is already decimated.
The direct economic loss is assessed at 23.66 billion yuan (US$2.85 billion).
Regime leader Wen Jiabao went to Qujing, a city in Yunnan Province, from March 19-21 to inspect the region. Beijing News reported that he told local cadres to "prepare for the worst" after he was informed that millions of mu (one mu equals 7,176 sq. feet) in crops had perished from drought in the city.
In response, the Chinese Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Civil Affairs have allocated 155 million yuan for drought relief, which is an average of merely three yuan (US$0.5) per person.
Guizhou Province released an official announcement on March 19, reporting that severe drought has affected 84 counties, cities, and other areas with a population of 17.28 million. More than 3.1 million people are short of food.
Chongqing Morning Post reported that some villagers of Xiaowanshan Village in Yunnan Province are surviving on the so-called "starving sheep plant," a wild plant that sheep normally refuse to eat. These villagers are said to have nothing more left at home to eat.
The drought affecting Yunnan exceeds any from over the past millennium, according to the local department of meteorology. It is estimated that by May, one out of four people will have no drinking water.
The drought began last fall and has persisted for 3 consecutive seasons. It could continue through early summer. Seven million people are expected to suffer the effects of the food shortage.
Guangzhou Daily quoted an official from Mile County of Y unnan, on March 22. He said, "Our harvest for early spring crops such as corn, wheat, and kidney beans is zero. We cannot seed for the late spring crops. If there's no rain by May, major spring crops such as rice are at risk. People will face starvation."
Shuitang of Wenshan is considered the driest village in Yunnan. It is located on a mountain peak 5,906 feet above sea level.
City Express quoted Li Shaozhong, a Shuitang village staff person. He said, "There have been no fresh vegetables for three months. Many people forage for wild weeds in the mountains. There's no drinking water, let alone water for irrigation."
Li, in tears, pleaded with the villagers to leave. "Are you waiting to die of thirst?" he asked them.
In Shibanfang in Yanshan County of Yunnan, Wang Chaoyun, the village party secretary told The Epoch Times, "We are experiencing very severe drought. Villagers have to retrieve water from four miles away. Everyone's doing nothing but fighting the drought.
"The rivers and ponds are completely dry. There's no water in wells or cellars. There are no vegetables. The wheat is all dead. Even the mountain trees have wilted. There's nothing left," Wang said.
Yang Mingquan, a villager from Xingyi City, Guizhou Province told The Epoch Times, "There's been no rain since June 15 of last year. Local natural wells have dried up, reservoirs are basically exhausted, and rivers have no water. All streams in the village are gone. Wheat and rapeseed are all dead. All vegetables are dead and gone."
He said that locals have to retrieve water on a daily basis from streams located 19 miles away. The local government has had to provide [the equivalent of] five pounds of drinking water per person.
Yang said, "Basically, there's no water for cattle, horses, or pigs. Most have either been killed or sold. No one can afford them. People are now struggling to survive."
Yang commented on Wen Jiabao's instruction to cadres. He said that "Prepare for the worst" really means "This is a life-threatening disaster!"
AlJazeera reports that drought plagues southwest China.
China fighting to curb food price hikes
English.news.cn reports that drought-stricken southwest China moves to curb food price hikes.
Drought-stricken southwest China moves to curb food price hikes
English.news.cn 2010-03-26 00:06:45
by Li Baojie, Wang Ruoyao
BEIJING, March 25 (Xinhua) -- Local authorities in southwest China are moving to clamp down on food price hikes as the worst drought in decades shows no sign of easing.
Authorities in Guiyang, capital of the poverty-stricken mountainous Guizhou province, have indicated they would step up price monitoring and crack down on price gouging.
Vegetable vendors will be fined up to 100,000 yuan (14,650 U.S. dollars) if they are found involved in jacking up vegetable prices. The maximum fine for businesses is 1 million yuan. [price controls lead to shortages and even higher prices on the black market]
In Kunming, capital of the hardest-hit Yunnan province, the local government is monitoring food prices and supply on a daily basis. Local price control and industry and commerce authorities have launched campaigns to crack down on food hoarding and price gouging.
Local governments in their neighboring regions have taken similar measures to prevent huge rises in prices of grain, edible oil, and vegetables.
The dry weather has been ravaging southwest China for months, affecting 61.3 million residents and 5 million hectares of crops in Guizhou, Yunnan, Sichuan, Chongqing, and Guangxi.
The worsening drought has damaged wide swathes of vegetables and sparked sharp price hikes. Many vegetable prices have more than doubled.
Hou Junfa, a purchasing manager in a hotel in Nanning, capital of Guangxi, said vegetable prices continued to surge even after the Chinese Lunar New Year when prices usually fall.
Wang Wenying, a wholesaler in Nanning, said that prices of onion and potato continued to rise because of output declines in Yunnan, a main vegetable producing region.
The price hikes have resulted in increases in household expending.
A local resident in Nanning, surnamed Yang, said he spent five yuan more on vegetables than a month ago.
Some residents choose to buy cheaper vegetables to cut household expending.
Amid other efforts to curb huge price rises, the local governments have also started importing vegetables from non-drought-stricken regions to increase supply.
Authorities in Kunming earlier in the week bought 250 tonnes of wax gourd, pumpkin, and eggplant from other regions to ease supply shortage in local markets.
Prices of grain, including the staple food rice, has recorded relatively moderate gains of about 10 percent.
Some sellers, taking advantage of the lingering drought, have started increasing their rice prices in some cities.
The drought has caused speculation of further inflation rises as it has damaged hundreds of millions hectares of crops and disrupted spring planting as well.
Retail prices of fresh flowers, as a result, have risen by about 50 percent in many Chinese cities.
The decline in sugar cane production would cause China's white sugar output to decline to 11 million tonnes this year, 9 percent lower than the projection in November, the China Sugar Association said.
The drought, the worst in 100 years in Yunnan and parts of Guizhou, would likely to continue till May as no substantial rainfall was expected ahead of the raining season, according to meteorological agencies.
Authorities are hiding and downplaying problem
UPI reports that China bans 18 topics from media.
China bans 18 topics from media
Published: March. 26, 2010 at 5:57 PM
BEIJING, March 26 (UPI) -- The Chinese government has notified the country's media outlets of 18 subjects banned from reporting, including corruption, yuan revaluation and food safety.
Liu Yunshan, director of the Communist Party's publicity department, faxed the notifications to newspapers and radio, TV and Internet news outlets Sunday, one day before Google Inc. announced it was pulling its search Web site from the country, The Asahi Shimbun reported Friday.
The banned subjects include problems in Tibet and the Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region, difficulties faced by graduating students seeking jobs, the rising price of cooking oil and reports on criticism against China from U.S. officials and other international leaders.
"Most of the subjects that people are interested in have been banned. We don't know what to report on," an official at a Chinese newspaper told The Asahi Shimbun.
Nogger asks Drought, What Drought?
Friday, 26 March 2010
Drought, What Drought?
Chinese state radio has said that the ongoing drought in the south west of the country will only have "a very limited" impact on prices of staples such as grains and rice. Indeed, they said that they'd Googled for drought to see what all the fuss was about, but unfortunately Google appeared to be temporarily offline.
My reaction: The worst drought in a millenium is creating severe food shortages in southwest china.
1) Drought has now seriously impacted the provinces of Guangxi, Sichuan, Guizhou, Yunnan, the city of Chongqing, and the surrounding areas, affecting 61.3 million people
2) The drought affecting Yunnan exceeds any from over the past millennium.
3) More than 3.1 million people are short of food, and 18 million people are short of drinking water.
4) Some villagers of Xiaowanshan Village in Yunnan Province are surviving on the so-called "starving sheep plant," a wild plant that sheep normally refuse to eat.
5) The drought will likely to continue till May as no substantial rainfall was expected ahead of the raining season
Food Production is suffering
1) Water for 11.7 million large livestock and 5 million hectares (12.5 million acres) of farmland are compromised.
2) More than 1.15 million hectares (2.9 million acres) of farmland is already decimated.
Government Response to drought
1) Chinese authorities have reacted to the drought in southwest China are by:
A) Allocating 155 million yuan (about three yuan (US$0.5) per person) for drought relief.
B) Importing vegetables from non-drought-stricken regions to increase supply
C) Cracking down on food hoarding and price gouging: Vegetable vendors will be fined up to 100,000 yuan (14,650 U.S. dollars) if they are found involved in jacking up vegetable prices.
D) Silencing the press: Chinese media have been banned from reporting 18 subjects including food safety and the rising price of cooking oil.
E) downplaying problems: Chinese state radio has said that the ongoing drought in the south west of the country will only have "a very limited" impact on prices of staples such as grains and rice.
Food inflation rising
1) The drought is causing speculation of further inflation rises as it damages hundreds of millions hectares of crops and disrupts spring planting.
2) vegetable prices continued to surge even after the Chinese Lunar New Year when prices usually fall.
Conclusion: China has now suffered two record breaking droughts in a row. This year's drought hit southwest China and last year it was the Northeast (see *****Northern China hit by worst drought in 50 years*****). China is going to be seeing some serious food inflation.
2010 Map of Drought Hit Provinces
2009 Map of Drought Hit Provinces