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Natural Disasters Hit Chinese Grain Output

A severe drought is continuing in northeastern China, another crucial farming region.
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) July 23, 2007
Floods and other natural disasters are hurting China's grain output, the government said Monday, raising the prospect of higher food prices with inflation already at uncomfortably high levels. "Agricultural production is facing various problems, including flooding, drought, typhoon, plant diseases and insect pests," the agriculture ministry said in a statement posted on its website.

"Stabilising the autumn grain supply is a big challenge."

The ministry called on farmers to expand late-harvest planting of rice and other crops to help make up for losses caused by the weather-related problems.

China's biggest grain growing area is in the south of the country, where floods over the past couple of months have destroyed large swathes of farmland, the China Daily reported on Monday.

The floods have also caused other problems, such as a rat plague in central Hunan province which has seen an estimated two billion rodents gnaw their way through crops that were supposed to end up on dinner plates.

Meanwhile, a severe drought is continuing in northeastern China, another crucial farming region.

"A loss in grain output this year is inevitable," the China Daily quoted Chen Sufen, the head of a 460-hectare (11,300-acre) farm in northeast China's Liaoning province, as saying.

"First it was the persistent drought, and then came the bugs."

Chen said she was expecting grain output on her farm to fall by 20 percent this year, while the China Daily quoted an economist warning of the inevitable impact on food costs nationwide.

"A decline in grain production will drive up food prices," Sealand Securities analyst Yang Yongguang was quoted as saying.

The warning comes after the government released data last week showing that inflation rose 4.4 percent in June, and 3.2 percent in the first six months of the year, with food prices among the biggest drivers.

Food prices have jumped 7.6 percent in the first half of 2007.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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NASA Researchers Find Satellite Data Can Warn Of Famine
Greenbelt MD (SPX) Jul 20, 2007
A NASA researcher has developed a new method to anticipate food shortages brought on by drought. Molly Brown of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and her colleagues created a model using data from satellite remote sensing of crop growth and food prices. Brown conceived the idea while working with organizations in Niger, West Africa, that provide information regarding failed crops and help address local farmers' worries about feeding their families.

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