China plans cloud seeding to protect grain from drought

Associated press

CHONGQING, China (AP) — China said it would try to protect its grain crop from a record drought by using chemicals to generate rain, as factories in the southwest waited Sunday to see if they would be closed for another week due to water shortages to generate hydroelectricity.

The hottest and driest summer since the government began recording rainfall and temperature 61 years ago has withered crops and left reservoirs at half their normal water level. Factories in Sichuan province were closed last week to save energy for homes as demand for air conditioning increased, with temperatures reaching 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit).

The next 10 days are a “key period of damage resistance” for southern China’s rice crop, Agriculture Minister Tang Renjian said, according to the Global Times newspaper.

Authorities will take emergency measures to “ensure the autumn grain harvest”, which accounts for 75 percent of China’s annual total, Tang said on Friday, according to the report.

Authorities will “try to increase rainfall” by seeding clouds with chemicals and spraying crops with a “water-retaining agent” to limit evaporation, Tang’s ministry said on its website. Internet. He gave no details on where it would be.

The disruption adds to challenges for the ruling Communist Party, which is trying to shore up sluggish economic growth ahead of a meeting in October or November when President Xi Jinping is expected to seek a third five-year term in office.

A smaller Chinese grain harvest would have a potential global impact. This would boost import demand, adding to upward pressure on inflation in the United States and Europe, which is at multi-decade highs.

Also on Sunday, thousands of factories in Sichuan province that make solar panels, processor chips and other industrial goods waited to hear whether last week’s six-day shutdown would be extended.

A document that circulated on social media and said it was from the Sichuan Department of Economy and Information Industry said the shutdown would be extended until Thursday, but there is no has not had official confirmation.

Phone calls to the economic agency and the provincial government went unanswered. A woman who answered the phone at the Sichuan branch of the State Grid Ltd. said she hadn’t seen any notices about the extended closure. She wouldn’t give her name.

The governments of Sichuan and neighboring Hubei province say thousands of hectares (acres) of crops are a total loss and millions have been damaged.

The Hubei government declared a drought emergency on Saturday and said it would release disaster relief. The Sichuan government said 819,000 people face a shortage of drinking water.

Sichuan was hardest hit by the drought as it gets 80% of its electricity from hydroelectric dams. The provincial government says the reservoirs are at half normal water levels. He previously called on manufacturers to “leave the power to the people”.

Offices and shopping malls in Sichuan have been ordered to turn off lights and air conditioning. Metro in Chengdu, the provincial capital, said it turned off thousands of lights at stations.

Meanwhile, other areas have suffered deadly flash floods.

Flooding in the northwest province of Qinghai has killed at least 26 people and left five missing, state television reported on Sunday, citing local authorities.

Landslides and overflowing rivers affected six villages in Datong County on Thursday night, according to earlier reports. Some 1,500 people have been driven from their homes.


AP video producer Olivia Zhang contributed.