SOURCE / ECONOMY
Torrential Henan rains spark concern over grain production
Impact on breadbasket output limited, controllable: experts
Published: Jul 26, 2021 08:28 PM
Farmers harvest early rice in Yongfeng, East China's Jiangxi Province on Tuesday. In the heat of the summer rush, farmers are busy harvesting 420,000 mu (28,000 hectares) of mature early rice to ensure that these summer grains are put into silos. China has set a grain harvest goal of 650 million metric tons and has achieved the target for six years in a row. Photo: VCG

Farmers harvest early rice in Yongfeng, East China's Jiangxi Province on Tuesday. In the heat of the summer rush, farmers are busy harvesting 420,000 mu (28,000 hectares) of mature early rice to ensure that these summer grains are put into silos. China has set a grain harvest goal of 650 million metric tons and has achieved the target for six years in a row. Photo: VCG



The unprecedented rain that hit many parts of Central China's Henan Province last week not only caused great losses in human lives and property, which led to the relocation of over 1.4 million people, but also sparked concerns over the potential impact on the nation's food supplies, as the province is one of China's leading grain producers.

The record floods affected 10.68 million mu (712,000 hectares) of crops in Henan, accounting for 9 percent of the fall crop area, according to a report released by the provincial government over the weekend.

The production gap of Henan is irreplaceable in China, as the province alone accounts for nearly 10 percent of total grain production, and more than one-fourth of the summer grain crop, Mei Xinyu, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation of China's Ministry of Commerce, told the Global Times.

"Although the summer grain harvest was basically completed before the floods, the disaster may still cause serious damage to the processing, storage and transportation of summer grain," noted Mei.

Several local farmers told the Global Times on Monday that they are taking measures to minimize the impact. 

A staff member of the Henan Association of the Grain Sector told the Global Times on Monday that the body has received a lot of feedback from local agricultural products processing factories that were seriously affected by the disaster.

"Some flour factories told us they had to shut down due to the floods, and some machines and equipment were damaged," said the staffer.

Stranded residents are evacuated on shovel loaders in flood-hit Xinxiang City, central China's Henan Province, July 24, 2021. (Photo: Xinhua)

Stranded residents are evacuated on shovel loaders in flood-hit Xinxiang City, central China's Henan Province, July 24, 2021. (Photo: Xinhua)



An agricultural products supplier surnamed Ma based in Kaifeng, Henan Province told the Global Times that his vegetables, including peppers, cucumbers and cabbages, were all damaged by the flooding. 

Ma estimated that the overall output of his vegetables in 2021 will be cut 50-60 percent compared with last year, and he has started to reseed these products to make up for the losses.

As of Monday noon, about 972,000 hectares of crops in the province were affected, according to a press conference hosted by the Information Office of the Henan Provincial Government on Monday.

While there has certainly been damage to some crops, industry insiders said that the actual fallout would be limited, and supplies in the region and beyond would not be affected much.

The natural disaster occurred after the summer grain harvest in several major grain production provinces had been basically completed, so it did not directly affect the harvest of China's summer grain, which is the most vulnerable to rain, Jiao Shanwei, editor-in-chief of cngrain.com, a website specializing in grain news, told the Global Times on Monday.

China also has abundant grain reserves to secure the supplies. The total summer grain output in 2021 was 145.82 million tons, up 2.1 percent from 2020, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics on July 14. 

Although there will be more heavy rainfall in Henan, it may not be as bad as it was last week, Jiao said.

In contrast, the flood could even benefit the growth of the major crops in the region such as corn, analysts said.

Henan Province is dominated by plains, especially in the middle and eastern parts where corn is grown in large quantities, and water levels may quickly recede, said Jiao.

"Rain didn't submerge the corn in many parts of Henan, although it affected some relatively short crops such as peanuts. After the waters recede, corn will benefit due to the increased soil moisture in most areas, especially after long drought," noted Jiao.

However, the impact on wheat is likely to be greater, as it's the peak buying season and sales have stalled in the worst-hit areas due to flooding. The quality of the wheat could be affected after being soaked in water, so market prices will rise, experts predicted.


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