China uses chemicals to produce rain for protecting its grain from drought.
China’s agriculture ministry says it will use chemicals to generate rain to preserve its grain harvest from a record-breaking drought, as industries in the southwest waited Sunday to see if they would be shut down for another week owing to a lack of water to generate hydropower.
The warmest and driest summer since the government began collecting rainfall and temperature 61 years ago has shriveled crops and left reservoirs half-empty. Last week, factories in Sichuan province were shut down to save energy for houses as air conditioning demand increased, with temperatures reaching 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit).
The next ten days are a ‘critical phase of damage resistance’ for southern China’s rice harvest, according to Agriculture Minister Tang Renjian, as reported by the publication Global Times.
According to the report, authorities would take emergency measures to ‘guarantee the autumn grain harvest,’ which accounts for 75% of China’s yearly total.
Tang’s ministry stated on its website that authorities will ‘attempt to boost rain’ by seeding clouds with chemicals and spraying fields with a ‘water holding substance’ to reduce evaporation. It made no mention of where this would take place.
The disruption complicates matters for the ruling Communist Party, which is attempting to boost slumping economic development ahead of a meeting in October or November at which President Xi Jinping is anticipated to seek a third five-year term as leader.
A lower Chinese grain crop could have a global impact. It would increase import demand, adding to the upward pressure on inflation in the United States and Europe, which is already at multi-decade highs.
Also on Sunday, thousands of enterprises in Sichuan province producing solar panels, processor chips, and other industrial goods awaited word on whether the six-day shutdown that began last week would be prolonged.
A document leaked on social media claiming to be from the Sichuan Economic and Information Industry Department stated that the closure will be prolonged until Thursday, but no official confirmation was provided.
Calls to the economic agency and the provincial administration were not returned. A lady who answered the phone at the Sichuan branch of the state-owned electricity utility State Grid Ltd. claimed she had not seen any warning about the shutdown being extended. She refused to disclose her name.
According to the administrations of Sichuan and neighboring Hubei province, thousands of hectares (acres) of crops have been destroyed, and millions have been harmed.
Hubei’s government declared a drought emergency on Saturday and announced disaster relief. According to the Sichuan administration, 819,000 people are without drinking water.
Sichuan has been severely damaged by the drought because hydroelectric dams provide 80% of its power. According to the provincial authorities, reservoirs are 50% full. It had previously urged producers to ‘leave power to the people.’
Sichuan offices and retail malls were told to switch off lights and air conditioning. The metro in Chengdu, the provincial capital, announced that it had switched off thousands of lights in stations. Meanwhile, other places have been devastated by severe flash floods.
Flooding in the northwestern province of Qinghai killed at least 26 people and left five people missing, according to state television, citing local authorities.
According to prior news reports, mudslides and overflowing rivers struck six villages in Datong county late Thursday. Around 1,500 people were evicted from their houses.