‘Rice won’t grow’ amid China drought, food security concerns

In the northern Chinese province of Jiangxi, in the Yangtze River basin, a 67-year-old farmer walks through his rice fields. After 49 consecutive days without rain, but in the middle of the rainy season, the ground became as hard as rock. This year’s harvest is not good… Lthe ears are empty and thegrains of rice does not form due to lack of rainhe breathed. lookedz, the land is very dry, everything is broken.”

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In the neighboring plot, the same observation: “For two and a half months, there was no rain. The rice did not grow”, breathed “Compared to a normal year, rice production will be reduced by two thirds.said another farmer, Wang Xigong. At this point in the summer, it’s too late to recover the losses. There is no cure.”

Every year, farmers in China learn more about the effects of global warming. For Xu Yinlong, a researcher at the Beijing Academy of Agricultural Sciences,Awareness comes slowly: “In the Yangtze area, farmers are used to a lot of rain. The work to fight drought should be strengthened in the future, with the construction of new hydraulic installations, new canals to bring water to in the fields and construction of pumping stations to the development of drip irrigation.”

“China’s agriculture is facing an unprecedented transition. The ability to withstand drought is not enough.”

Xu Yinlong, researcher at the Beijing Academy of Agricultural Sciences

at franceinfo

Rice fields, cotton fields, lotus fields… Everywhere, water reserves are at their lowest. Farmers are trying to cope, in small ways. This year, we bought a small pump that irrigates our fieldsand it is not enough to reach the higher landsexplained farmer Huang Fangming. Lits cultures deadthe of thirst. The rice fields are dead.”

One question worries the authorities: with the evolution of the climate, can China continue to feed its 1.4 billion inhabitants? This is a real concern for researcher Xu Yinlong. China’s food security is an issue that is always monitored because, already in normal time, agricultural resources are not enough to feed all the inhabitants, explains the specialist. With climate change, it is an issue that will become more pressing. New lands must be found, especially in the north and west of the country. These regions it used to be too cold to grow. However, grdue to heat, these lands will be cultivated”says the specialist.

A farmer in China worries about the drought, in September 2022. (SEBASTIEN BERRIOT / RADIO FRANCE)

The situation has put the Chinese government under pressure. Apart from food damage, the risk is also social in rural China where global warming is melting farmers’ incomes.. “My husband is crippled. If we don’t cultivate the farm, we have no other way to earn a living”worried a farmer.

“How can I make a living? How can I find another job at my age? In the past years, I could farm, sell rice and cotton to feed myself. This year, it’s impossible.”

A Chinese farmer

at franceinfo

Faced with the level of the Yangtze River, which fell again this summer to unprecedented proportions, farmers in Jiangxi are extremely pessimistic about the coming years. The river feeds all the plants in the basin. If it goes on, I think a lot of rice will be left behind, complained a man. How is it possible that we are not worried?”

In China, agriculture is at risk in the face of global warming: report by Sébastien Berriot

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