18 August 1998
AN AREA the size of England and Ireland – more than 21 million hectares – is under water in the worst floods in Chinas history.
The floods have damaged the livelihoods of tens of millions of farmers and have started to alter the outlook for world trade in a number of key agricultural commodities.
The summer grain harvest has been cut by 11m tonnes, with the ministry of agriculture forecasting that China may be unable to meet its grain target of 492.5m tonnes for 1998.
Cotton, wheat and rice appear to be the worst hit.
Chinese farmers were having a difficult year before the flooding. Three successive strong harvests have resulted in a glut in agricultural produce, which has driven farm prices down by as much as a third this year.
Some officials are looking on the bright side – they see the flood as a means of reducing stocks and raising prices.
- Financial Times 18/08/98 page 22
- The Guardian 18/08/98 page 12 (News in Brief)