A severe drought in southwest China’s Yunnan Province has caused huge losses to agricultural production and disruption to the daily life of locals. From May 19 to 22, the provincial meteorological department carried out artificial precipitation operations in the air and from the ground in the areas where conditions permitted. Such efforts will continue in the following days.

china drought geoengineering, China tries to save crops from unprecedented drought in Yunnan by using geoengineering and artficial rain, food crisis
China tries to save crops from unprecedented drought in Yunnan by using geoengineering and artficial rain. Picture via CGTN

Data from China’s meteorological department shows that from April 1 to May 17, the average precipitation in Yunnan was 35.3 millimeters, about 63 percent less than that of the same period in previous years, hitting a record low since 1961. Meanwhile, the average temperature of the province was about 1.9 degrees Celsius higher – a record high since 1961.

The extreme weather has struck most parts of the province. The National Commission for Disaster Reduction said Thursday that a preliminary investigation shows that more than 1.16 million people from 36 county-level cities have been affected by the disaster. Large areas of crops including rice, corn, potato, rubber, flue-cured tobacco and various vegetables have largely withered.

In total, the direct economic loss nears 138.8 million U.S. dollars, said the commission. 

Corn seedlings in a village in the city of Qujing start withering. /Photo from weather.com.cn

Local governments are clueless

Yuanjiang County in the city of Yuxi is one of the worst-hit places, as it has suffered extreme heat since mid-May. On May 19 and 20, the temperatures there exceeded 44 degrees Celsius. For the farmlands where crops have been killed, the local agricultural department is instructing residents to replant some other dryland crops like soybeans and oil crops as substitutes.

Zhicun in Honghe Hani Autonomous Prefecture is a town where many flue-cured tobaccos are planted. To prevent the cash crops dying out, the local government has purchased some drought-resistance equipment for irrigation, reported Honghe Daily.

In Xishuangbanna, a popular tourist destination, classes in kindergartens were suspended in the past days to protect the children from heat-related health risks. 

Rice planting in Mengzi, Honghe Hani Autonomous Prefecture has been badly affected. The transplanted seedlings are about eight centimeters shorter than those of previous years. /Photo from weather.com.cn

Relevant authorities are also taking actions to alleviate the unremittingly awful drought.

From May 19 to 22, the provincial meteorological department carried out artificial precipitation operations in the air and from the ground in the areas where conditions permitted. Such efforts will continue in the following days.

Since early May, firefighters have been carrying out a campaign delivering 6,000 tons of water to areas most desperate for it. 

Firefighters from Menglian in the city of Pu’er send water to a village with fire engines. /Courtesy of Pu’er firefighting squad‍

As an area frequently hit by drought, Yunnan had a similar episode in 2012 when it also experienced huge economic losses. 

Chen Lijuan, chief forecaster at the National Climate Center, told the Science and Technology Daily that the rainy season in Yunnan over the past years usually fell in mid- or late May, but it is expected to come later this year so that the drought would last for a period of time.

Geoengineering, drought and food crisis… This is a very dark and sinister future.

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[CGTN]

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