China food prices spike as floods ruin farmland

ZHUJI, China, Jun Sun Jun 19, 2011 8:47am EDT

1 of 10. A girls carries two buckets of clean water to her house through a flooded area in Moshan village, Zhejiang province June 19, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Carlos Barria

ZHUJI, China, Jun (Reuters) - Torrential rain across southern and eastern China which has killed more than 100 people and triggered the evacuation of half a million has left large areas of farmland devastated as food prices surge, state media said on Sunday.

Weeks of rainstorms in the stricken province of Zhejiang in the Yangtze delta have caused nearly 5 billion yuan ($772 million) of damage, reducing vegetable production by 20 percent and pushing prices in the provincial capital of Hangzhou up by as much as 40 percent, Xinhua said.

China is hit by flooding and drought every year.

The rain is expected to continue for the next two days, stretching from the financial hub of Shanghai in the east to rural Yunnan on China's southwestern border.

Villagers on the outskirts of the city of Zhuji in Zhejiang returned to their homes on Sunday as flood waters began to recede.

"Right now, I am just clearing up the things in my store," said 37-year-old shop owner Peng Gao. "It's not about whether the floods will come again. If we don't clear the things, we will not be able to use them again."

Two towns were flooded and thousands were evacuated following the breach of two dykes in Zhuji on Thursday.

China has mobilized troops across the region to rescue stricken farmers and distribute food, but some villagers said the local government could have done more to prevent the flooding.

"When it first started, the breach (in the flood protection dyke) was not that huge -- we could have easily fixed it," said 22-year old villager Shou Qiongdan.

"But the government did not do anything. None of the local officials tried to salvage the situation. That's why we have such huge economic losses and so many people being affected by the flooding."

In neighboring Jiangsu province, the city of Suzhou was hit by more than 200 mm of rainfall on Friday night, and water at the Tai Lake had already exceeded flood alert levels, the China News Service said.

In central China's Hubei, two people were killed after the Yangtze river and its tributaries burst their banks, with as many as 3 million people affected, Xinhua said in a separate report. Further downstream in Anhui province, three died and another 120,000 were evacuated as a result of floods.

In southwest China's Sichuan province, five people were killed and another seven remain missing after a water diversion tunnel was flooded on Friday, the China News Service said. ($1 = 6.471 yuan)

(Additional reporting by Sabrina Mao and David Stanway; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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Comments (2)
kc10man wrote:
Just crazy. First Eastern China is in an unending drought. And now there is too much water for their thousands a pone thousands of dams to handle. Guess you should stop draining your lakes to make new farmland.

I think I’m coming off a little more cynical than I want to. But these extremes that are hitting the mainland every year now seem to be ample proof that global warming is a big player in Chinese agriculture.

Jun 19, 2011 11:19am EDT  --  Report as abuse
kc10man wrote:
This just in, A cyclone is headed for Hainan this week. The rain just keeps on coming. Feels just like last year. I will be in the path but far enough away for it not to matter too much. Raining Cats and Pandas today.

Jun 19, 2011 10:09pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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