Heavy flooding has engulfed huge swathes of southern China. Surging floodwater burst the banks of Poyang Lake in Jiangxi province last month, destroying thousands of acres of farmland in what's known as the "land of fish and rice."
The broader Yangtze River basin — which includes Poyang Lake and stretches more than 3,900 miles from Shanghai in the east to the Tibetan border in the west — accounts for 70% of the country's rice production.
The flooding that affected more than 5 million hectares of cropland is the worst that that China has experienced in years. China's Ministry of Emergency Management pegs the direct economic cost of the disaster at $21 billion in destroyed farmland, roads and other property. Some 55 million people, have been affected.
The disaster is bad news for the world's second-largest economy, which is already in a fragile state because of the coronavirus pandemic. Beijing has so far been able to secure food supplies by importing vast amounts of produce from other countries, and by releasing tens of millions of tons from strategic reserves.