Mon, Jun 20, 2011 - Page 11 News List

Food prices spike as floods ruin farmland in China

Reuters, ZHUJI, China

Torrential rain across southern and eastern China that has killed more than 100 people and triggered the evacuation of half a million has left large areas of farmland devastated as food prices surge, state media said yesterday.

Weeks of rainstorms in the stricken province of Zhejiang in the Yangtze delta have caused nearly 5 billion yuan (US$772 million) in damage, reducing vegetable production by 20 percent and pushing prices in the provincial capital of Hangzhou up by as much as 40 percent, Xinhua news agency said.

The rain is expected to continue for the next two days, stretching from the financial hub of Shanghai in the east to rural Yunnan on China’s southwestern border.

Villagers on the outskirts of the city of Zhuji in Zhejiang returned to their homes yesterday as floodwaters began to recede.

“Right now, I am just clearing up the things in my store,” said Peng Gao, a 37-year-old shop owner. “It’s not about whether the floods will come again. If we don’t clear the things, we will not be able to use them again.”

Two towns were flooded and thousands evacuated following the breach of two dykes in Zhuji on Thursday.

China has mobilized troops across the region to rescue stricken farmers and distribute food, but some villagers said the local government could have done more to prevent the flooding.

“When it first started, the breach [in the flood protection dyke] was not that large — we could have easily fixed it,” 22-year old villager Shou Qiongdan said. “But the government did nothing. None of the local officials tried to salvage the situation. That’s why we have such huge economic losses and so many people have been affected by the flooding.”

In neighboring Jiangsu Province, the city of Suzhou was hit by more than 200mm of rainfall on Friday night, and water at the Tai Lake had already exceeded flood alert levels, the China News Service said.

In Hubei, two people were killed after the Yangtze River and its tributaries burst their banks, with as many as 3 million people affected, Xinhua said in a separate report. Further downstream in Anhui Province, three died and another 120,000 were evacuated as a result of floods.

In Sichuan Province, five people were killed and another seven remain missing after a water diversion tunnel was flooded on Friday, the China News Service said.

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