Drought threatens China’s crops when the world can least afford it

The extreme weather hitting China in all directions comes at a crucial time for harvesting in the world’s most populous nation.

Hina has largely escaped this year’s spike in global food prices due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. But sustained, scorching heat in central and southwestern areas and flooding in the northeast — all made worse by climate change — are now threatening a grain harvest totaling hundreds of millions of tons, most of which will be gathered in the fall.

The biggest risk is that production outages in China could fuel already high import needs and intensify price pressures in the rest of the world. Global food supplies have been impacted by the pandemic and then the war in Ukraine, sending food bills skyrocketing in some countries, while searing conditions from the US Midwest to India continue to threaten harvests in the northern hemisphere. China is by far the world’s largest food importer.

“The impact of unfavorable weather conditions right now will weaken mainland China’s net food balance in the current crop cycle,” said Charles Hart, commodities analyst at Fitch Solutions.

“The fall harvest represents about three quarters of total grain production and will therefore determine whether or not China meets its target of 650 million tons production.”

The worst drought since the early 1960s, hitting the regions along the Yangtze River and Sichuan basins, poses the greatest threat, which produces almost half of the country’s rice, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Supply of the staple tops China’s list of food security concerns, and the Ministry of Agriculture has already warned of serious challenges to grain production in the fall.

“The main crops affected are corn and rice,” said Darin Friedrichs, co-founder of Sitonia Consulting, as blast furnace-like conditions in central and southern China reduce yields. Some of the Yangtze River Delta’s soybean production has also been affected, although most of China’s oilseed production is in the north, he said.

In China’s northeastern breadbasket, heavy rains have inundated parts of Liaoning and Jilin provinces. This could reduce corn production by about 4.5 million tons, according to a report by commodities broker Yongan Futures Co. China is expected to produce about 270 million tons of grain this season, in line with last year’s level.

The extent of crop losses still depends on the weather, and forecasters have better news on that front as rains expected in southern China over the next 10 days should ease drought conditions in some areas.

https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/news/drought-threatens-chinas-harvest-when-world-can-least-afford-it-41933682.html Drought threatens China’s crops when the world can least afford it

Fry Electronics Team

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