Saturday February 23, 2013
Dry days again in Yunnan
MADE IN CHINA
By CHOW HOW BAN
Drought for the fifth consecutive year hits major crop production base, bringing misery to residents and causing food prices to soar.
IT’S the time of the year again that Yunnan province in Southwest China has been hit by drought.
For the fifth consecutive year, the Chuxiong Yi autonomous prefecture has experienced an average rainfall level of 32mm between October 2012 and February this year. This was 37mm and 100mm lesser than last year and 2011, respectively.
Most of the areas in the prefecture, which is one of the major crop production base in the province, has not seen a drop of rainwater for 128 days.
Temperatures were measured at about 13 degree Celcius which was a record high compared with the previous years.
The prefecture became one of the places in the province with the lowest rainfall, according to the provincial meteorological bureau.
The severe drought has left 108,000 people and 52,800 heads of livestock in the prefecture with shortage of drinking water.
The affected winter crops totalled an area of about 62,000 hectares.
The prefecture’s flood control and drought relief operation office director Luo Wenhong said rainfall was usually formed in the area as a result of the intersection of cold air from the northwest and warm and humid air from the Indian Ocean.
“But as the Chuxiong prefecture is located in central Yunnan, the northwestern cold air has been hindered by the Wumeng Mountain while the Ailao Mountain has blocked the warm and humid air.
“This has made the formation of rainfall almost impossible,” he was quoted by China News Service agency as saying.
He said many rivers and reservoirs had dried up resulting in severe water shortage especially in the mountainous areas.
“We expect that by the end of June, 748 of the total of 1,097 village committees, with some 2,653 natural villages, will continue to face water shortage problem,” he added.
Prior to the Chinese New Year, due to the drought in southwest and winter storm in the north, the prices of vegetables and fresh produces shot up significantly driving many consumers crazy.
According to reports by Yuxi Daily based in Yunnan, the drought and harsh winter conditions had made it more difficult and costly for farmers to grow produces and the production cost had doubled compared with the previous years.
Checks at two major markets in Yuxi city south of Chuxiong showed that the Chinese cabbage was priced at two yuan (98 sen) per kilogramme with its wholesale price being 0.80 yuan (39 sen).
The daily reported that the production cost for Chinese cabbage at the farms was about 0.40 yuan (19 sen) which was double the price that of two years ago. On a bigger picture, the cost was 2,500 yuan (RM1,225) per 0.06 hectare and this included cost of seedlings, pesticide and fertiliser but not rent and labour cost.
Many of the produces grown in the province have been sold to other southern cities at even higher prices.
Officials from the city’s agriculture bureau were quoted by the newspaper as saying that they hoped that the prices would remain high so that farmers would find more incentive to grow produces during the hard times.
In the entire province, some 293,000 hectares of crops have been badly affected by the drought and this had incurred damages amounting to almost one billion yuan (RM490mil).
The provincial meteorological bureau said that out of 125 stations, 78% of them recorded rainfall levels that were considered as critically low.
It said that in areas like Chuxiong, Dali, Baoshan, Yuxi and Qujing, water evaporation and loss of soil moisture occurred more frequently than before due to the increasing heat.
The provincial agriculture bureau had also despatched relief squads to the affected areas to provide assistance for the farmers so that they would be able to harvest and collect the existing grains and produces in their farms without any problem.
The authorities had intensified well digging projects and upgrading works on the reservoirs to help address the problem.
Meanwhile, they are also on guard for forest fire in view of the lingering dry weather in Yunnan and other provinces such as Sichuan, Guizhou, Hunan, Jiangxi, Guangdong and Fujian.
Residents in Yunnan have other things to worry about as the province had been rocked by two earthquakes measuring a magnitude of four on the Richter scale on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The frequent occurrence of earthquakes has drawn a theory among observers that an earthquake would usually follow the drought.
Yunnan provincial quake prevention bureau researcher Zhang Jianguo told China News Service that both the drought and earthquake should not be linked to each other.
“Based on our meteorological and seismic records in the past 100 years, there have not not been any simple one-to-one relationship between drought, flood and earthquake.”