BEIJING – China’s State Council on Wednesday announced a 10 billion yuan ($1.45 billion) subsidy to support rice farmers experiencing drought conditions which authorities have warned pose a “severe threat” to this year’s autumn harvest.
China produces more than 95% of the rice, wheat and corn it consumes, but a lower harvest could lead to increased import demand in the world’s most populous country, putting further pressure on global supplies already strained by the conflict in Ukraine.
The officials also called for “a combination of measures to increase water sources to combat the drought, first ensuring people have clean water, securing water for the agricultural irrigation,” the announcement adds.
CCTV’s Wednesday night news program showed trucks supplying villagers facing drinking and agricultural water shortages in rural areas of Sichuan and Chongqing, with remote mountainous areas particularly affected.
Temperatures reaching 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit) have prompted several Chinese provinces to impose industrial blackouts as cities struggle to cope with a surge in electricity demand caused in part by people turning on air conditioning.
Record water levels on the Yangtze have also put pressure on hydroelectric generators in the region.
The heat broke records in Sichuan, where a temperature of 43.9 degrees Celsius (111 degrees Fahrenheit) was recorded on Wednesday afternoon, the province’s Meteorological Service Center said in a statement.