Govt seeds clouds to make rain during drought

China is mobilising rocket launchers to make it rain. The rockets, launched into clouds, carry chemicals that can induce rainfall, as part of an all-out campaign to protect the country's grain harvest from record-setting drought.

The move comes as authorities described the next ten days to be crucial in preventing further damage to crops. Authorities in Chongqing, meanwhile, have asked malls to shorten their operating hours due to an "urgent" power supply situation caused by a recent heatwave.

This year has seen the hottest, driest summer since the government began recording rainfall and temperature more than six decades ago. The heat has wilted crops and left reservoirs at half their normal water level, but it has also forced authorities to get creative.

Agriculture Minister Tang Renjian has said officials will take emergency steps to “ensure the autumn grain harvest”, which is 75 percent of the mainland’s annual total, the Global Times reported.

He added the government will seed clouds with chemicals and spray crops with a “water retaining agent” to “try to increase rain” and limit evaporation, according to a statement from his ministry.

Broadcaster CCTV on Sunday released footage of meteorology workers firing rockets carrying what it said was the chemical silver iodide into the sky, after which, rain was seen apparently induced in parts of Hubei's city of Suizhou.

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Separately, the governments of Hubei and neighbouring Sichuan province say thousands of hectares of crops are a total loss.

Hubei’s government declared a drought emergency on Saturday and said it would release disaster aid. The Sichuan government said 819,000 people face a shortage of drinking water.

Sichuan has been hardest hit by drought because it gets 80 percent of its power from hydroelectric dams.

In nearby Chongqing, measures to shorten the opening hours of malls mean dozens of shopping malls in districts across the southwestern city must adjust their business hours to between 4pm and 9pm.

The Chongqing Economic And Information Commission said these measures ensure the safe and orderly supply of power and ensure the basic needs of the masses. (Agencies)
Last updated: 2022-08-22 HKT 13:45

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