Drought worsens fears of inflation

08:56, May 31, 2011      

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A rare drought that has wreaked havoc in central and southern China is expected to send grain prices soaring as experts predict the worst disaster of its kind in 50 years could offset the government's efforts to curb inflation and threaten its annual CPI target of 4 percent.

Five provinces in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River – Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Anhui and Jiangsu, a major grain-producing region – have suffered the most serious drought in decades.

The drought had affected 34.8 million people, over one million livestock, and 3.7 million hectares of farmland as of Friday, causing direct economic losses of 14.9 billion yuan ($2.3 billion), the Ministry of Civil Affairs said.

As farmers struggled to find new water sources for their crops, many fishing boats found themselves grounded as the river and lakes shrank, and residents in the region found the prices of vegetables, rice and aquatic products rising.

"Prices of some fruit and vegetables have increased to 6 yuan per kilogram on Tuesday from 3.6 yuan last week," Jin Zhengsheng, 50, a resident of Kunshan, Jiangsu Province, told the Global Times.

Huang Xianyin, 41, a villager from Xinjian county, Jiangxi Province, also noticed the hikes.

"It's not only vegetables. Rice has also become more expensive recently," Huang said.

Of the seven major vegetables, the prices of Chinese cabbage, rape and celery increased by 11.9, 16.4 and 11.6 percent respectively over the first ten days in May, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said last week.

Some experts say the price hikes will send up China's consumer price index (CPI).
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Source: Global Times
 
 
     
 
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