Local media reported yesterday the drought in Yunnan, Guangxi, Sichuan and Chongqing had already caused damage worth Yn24bn (US$3.5bn).
The country’s government has sent thousands of water trucks and 1.4m tonnes of emergency grain supplies to the region as part of a Yn2.6bn (US$381m) relief effort, according to the UK’s Guardian.
Changing weather patterns have been blamed by local meteorologists for the drought, which has been steadily becoming more severe for months. No significant rain is expected until the start of the rainy season in May, reported Xinhuanet.
Local authorities have cracked down on food price gouging, but prices are still rising as local production dwindles, particularly for vegetables.
The prices of cabbages and melons have doubled in Yunnan, local media reported, and the government has begun bringing in thousands of tonnes of produce from other provinces to stabilise supplies.