Heavy downpours damage farmland, inflates food prices in E. China

08:16, June 20, 2011      

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Two travellers push a car on a flooded street in the seat of Changshan County in Quzhou City, east China's Zhejiang Province, June 19, 2011. A fourth round of heavy downpours has battered Changshan County and its neighbouring areas since Saturday evening, bringing a rainfall of more than 150 millimeters. Days of torrential rains have saturated the mountainous county, putting the residents in danger of landslides and mud-rock flows. (Xinhua/Han Chuanhao)

Fu Xianjun, a farmer in east China's Zhejiang Province, stared at his submerged cropland, smoking one cigarette after another.

"This is the biggest flood I've ever seen in 20 years," Fu said, who has more than 25 hectares of rice fields in Longyou County. "The crops were looking good, but now they're under about two meters of water."

Fu is working day and night, trying to drain away the water. "I can only save 20 percent of the crops at most, and the flood will at least lead to an economic loss of 500,000 yuan (77,279 U. S. Dollars)," Fu said with a sigh.

Fu's frustration is shared by many farmers as several rounds of torrential rains have swept the province since June 3, flooding vast swaths of farmland and driving the Qiantang River to the highest flood peak since 1955.

The Zhejiang Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters said that by Saturday the disaster had afflicted about 2.59 million people and caused an economic loss of nearly five billion yuan.

According to statistics released by the agricultural department of Zhejiang Province, the rainstorms have reduced the vegetable production by about 20 percent.

The deepening flood crisis has also pushed up the prices of vegetables, fruits and grains in Zhejiang.

At the Wanshouting food market in Hangzhou City, the provincial capital, the prices of the green vegetables have risen by 40 percent on average.

Jin Changlin, an official of the Agricultural Department of Zhejiang, said, "The heavy rains have ruined much farmland, which has brought up the food prices, and it's estimated that prices will continue to rise for about two weeks."

The city government of Hangzhou has already put to use the city's emergency green vegetable base, which is expected to provide vegetables within 20 days, Jin said.

Pelting rains have lashed parts of central and southern China since the beginning of June. Food price hikes triggered by floods have also been reported by local media in the eastern provinces of Anhui and Jiangxi.

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Source: Xinhua
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