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China Flood Impact: Farmlands Flooded for Months but Officials Say There Is no Impact on Crop Yields

Published: October 28, 2021
TOPSHOT - This photo taken on Aug. 12, 2021 shows rescuers evacuating a child from a flooded area following heavy rains in Suizhou, in China's central Hubei province. - - China OUT (Image: -/CNS/AFP via Getty Images)

China has suffered heavy rains and floods since June of this year. A Chinese Communist Party (CCP) official said the natural disaster didn’t influence the year’s yield while lots of farmland was damaged with crops washed away.

Central China around Hebei, Henan, Shanxi, Sichuan and provinces have suffered the most due to the flooding. The heavy rainfall in Hebei Province broke the highest record ever recorded. At least 302 people were killed and 50 are missing in Henan Province. Taiyuan city, the capital and largest city of Shanxi Province, registered an amount of rainfall equivalent to 98.6 West Lake, approximately 1.41 billion gallons of water in total.

On Oct. 14, Zhu Juan, director of the Agricultural Affairs Division of the Planting Management Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, told the CCTV,  “The rainfalls did not affect the fall harvest of crops.”

The CCTV reported that 60.2 percent of China’s fall harvest crops have been harvested as of Oct. 13, and that the Huanghuaihai area (central eastern China) has harvested 64.1 percent. The Northeast has completed 52.9 percent, the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River and South China have completed 51.7 percent, the Northwest region has completed 71.2 percent, and the Southwest region has completed 76.2 percent.

Vice governor of China’s major crop production province disputes official figures

However, just two weeks prior to Zhu’s remark, the vice governor of Henan Province, Wu Guoding, said that at the end of September that the serious floods had caused huge damage: the total damaged lands are 15.15 million mu ( 2.5 million acres), including  9.78 million mu (1.6 million acres) flooded and 5.21 million mu (85,8300 acres) have lost all crops. “The yield in the fall will reduce to some degree,” Wu told the CCTV’s financial channel. 

Henan is a major crop production province in China, producing about 1/10 of all grains for China. 

A reporter from Caijing, an independent magazine based in Beijing that covers societal, political, and economic issues, found the farmland in flood ravaged parts of Henan Province were out of crops. 

“The damaged farmland in the village is 2,500 mu (411.8 acres), and the financial loss is over 100 million yuan (US$15.65 million),” said a villager in Qingshuihe Village, Weihui City, Henan Province.

Jun County, Henan Province, is a special flood diversion area, said Dong Wenquan, director of the Agricultural Technology Extension Center of Jun County Agriculture and Rural Bureau, in August. It takes about one month to drain the water in farmland, and more than two months for some areas. 

Corn is usually harvested in mid-to-late September, he said, if farmers plant short-term crops, it will affect wheat planting for the next period.

Farmers in Henan Province plant twice a year. Wheat is planted between the months of September and October. Heavy floods occurred in July,  a major time for corn to grow. In the flood detention area in Henan, houses were buried in the water with only roofs out of the water. Lots of corn stalks floated on the water surface. They were found hanging on the roofs after the water receded. 

Despite the flood factor, Henan’s crop production has been declining in the past four years, Radio Free Asia (RFA) quoted agricultural analyst Ma Wenfeng as saying on Oct. 18. 

Corn production, for example, has reduced by about 5 million tons in the past four years from 23 million tons in 2018 to 18 million plus tons this year, Ma said, adding that the drop in production is due to the forest planted for erosion control being damaged in Henan Province in recent years.

China relies on importing of grain and soy

The Economic Daily reported in 2019 that China imports more than 100 million tons of grain each year. More than 80 percent of soybeans consumed in China rely on imports. The demand for soybeans is growing rapidly, increasing more than 6.5 million tons every year on average in the past 10 years. China imported more than 95 million tons of soybeans in 2017 and more than 88 million tons in 2018, making it the world’s largest soybean importer, with annual imports accounting for around 60 percent of the global total. 

In 2021, China’s grain imports from January to April were 50.792 million tons, a year-on-year increase of 57.8 percent, according to data released by China’s Customs.