The Van Trump Report

China’s Recent Weather Extremes Could Drive Up Grain Imports

China started this year by unveiling big plans to boost its agricultural production and minimize imports. However, Mother Nature seems intent on derailing those plans, at least for this growing season, with China’s farmers battling drought and scorching heat in the northern half of the country and extreme flooding in the south.

High temperatures and lack of rainfall have caused intense drought in key production areas in northern China and impacted planting of summer grains, according to the agriculture ministry. The ministry is allocating funds to support drought prevention and control work in the provinces of Hebei, Shanxi, Jiangsu, Anhui, Shandong, Henan, and Shaanxi. In Henan, China’s top wheat producing region, rainfall in May was -70% lower than average.

According to the ministry, the funds will be channeled to measures such as “replenishing soil moisture, replanting new crops and applying fertilizer.” The ministry also insists that these efforts will “lay the groundwork for a bumper harvest in the autumn.” Some desperate local authorities are turning to “could seeding” in an effort to bring rains, while social media has been flooded with videos showing crying farmers praying to ancient gods for help.

The drought affected provinces are all important agricultural regions that are responsible for substantial shares of corn, rice, and wheat production, as well as some soybean production. Chinese officials have warned that drought could intensify with high temps and lack of rainfall expected to persist.  

In Southern China, the issue is too much rain. Severe flooding has impacted the provinces of Fujian, Guangxi, Guangdong, and Hunan, as well as the northwestern region of Xinjiang, most of which are also important grain and oilseed regions, especially for rice. Dozens of rivers in the south have already exceeded their banks and weather forecasters say more heavy rain is on the way.

Concerns about the country’s crop outlooks and general food security have reached such a level that Chinese officials are urging local authorities to crack down on “agricultural crimes.” Minister of Public Security Wang Xiaohong called for local police to work closely with other agencies to “clamp down on crimes such as selling fake farming products and destroying arable land.” (Sources: Bloomberg, South China Morning Post, Reuters, AP)

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