China’s Yangtze River basin has experienced a rare drought during the flood season since July. Although drought in the upper reaches has eased slightly, it remains severe in the middle and lower Yangtze Rivers, Poyang Lake, and Dongting Lake.
Britannica says the Yangtze basin contributes nearly 50% of China’s crop production. Meanwhile, the Yangtze River, Dongting Lake, and Poyang Lake confluence are one of China’s key grain production areas.
The Ministry of Water Resources told the press on September 24 that about 5 million acres (29.85 million mu) of arable land exists in the Yangtze River basin. It is mainly distributed in six provinces, including Chongqing City, Hunan, Jiangxi, Hubei, Anhui, and Guizhou.
In 2021, the grain production of these six drought-hit provinces accounted for 21% of China’s total grain production.
Tang Renjian, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, acknowledged at a drought meeting on August 21 that high temperatures and drought had caused heavy damage to mid-season rice and off-season maize in southern regions.
According to The Guardian, on August 23, four government departments issued an urgent joint emergency notice. It warned the autumn harvest was under severe threat and urged local authorities to ensure “every unit of water … be used carefully.”
According to Xinhua News, as of August 22, up to 8 million acres (3.2 million hectares) of arable land across 10 provincial areas was dry. The water shortage affected about 3.4 million people and 580,000 large livestock.
Farmer Zhang Wenlie from Jiujiang city, Jiangxi province—one of the country’s 13 central grain-producing provinces—said he would lose about 50 acres of rice this year.
Zhang told Xinhua, “I have grown rice for more than 30 years. In previous years, there were also droughts, but they didn’t last. This year there was almost no rain. I have drained the ponds and nearby ditches, but the fields are still dry.”
According to statistics from the Water Resources Ministry, since July this year, the amount of rain in the Yangtze basin has decreased by nearly 50% compared to the same period in previous years.
Currently, the water levels in the middle and lower Yangtze River and the Dongting Lake and Poyang Lake areas are at historic lows.
There are 1,734 reservoirs in Jiangxi that are below the dead water level, and more than 40,000 mountain ponds have dried up.
According to the official website of the Hunan Department of Water Resources, on September 21, the water level of Dongting Lake dropped over 65 feet (20 m), the lowest level for the same period.
Lin Chun (pseudonym) from Xinning County, Shaoyang City, Hunan Province, told Epoch Times on September 20 that there was no drinking water in his countryside. As a result, they could only go to remote low-lying areas to get water or use a plastic pipe to bring water out of the cave.