Rain, flooding damage crops in China

Villagers look over a swollen river which floods the crops at a village in Langfang in Hebei province, China Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2023. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
Villagers look over a swollen river which floods the crops at a village in Langfang in Hebei province, China Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2023. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Heavy rains lashing China's northeast are ravaging crops in some areas of the country's grain basket, threatening to increase imports at a time of rising food insecurity around the globe.

Recent flooding has destroyed rice planted in parts of Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces, local media reported. The rains are expected to continue across most of the region this week, as typhoon season continues to wreak havoc, raising the risk that more agricultural land will be inundated, according to the National Meteorological Center.

The northeastern region, which also includes the province of Liaoning and Inner Mongolia, produces almost 30% of China's grains, accounting for 45% of the national corn harvest, 60% of soybeans and 20% of rice.

Farmers have already been forced to contend with heat waves over the summer, and the latest evidence that climate change is provoking extreme weather could prove devastating for the world's top agricultural market.

"The flood has completely inundated rice crops for two days already and has caused total crop failure," said an official at a village in Shulan, a city in Jilin, according to one local report.

Chinese farming companies soared on Monday amid concerns that flooding could restrict supply, with shares of Hunan Jinjian Cereals Industry, a rice producer, and Hainan Shennong Technology, a seed company, surging 10% or more.

Beijing has increased aid to storm-affected areas as fatalities and evacuations have mounted. For farmers, ongoing rains will make it difficult to drain inundated fields, raising the risk of disease and infestations that will compound crop losses.

Global grains markets have become more vulnerable to supply disruptions after Russia's invasion of Ukraine choked off a significant portion of exports.

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