KUNMING, Mar. 23 -- Customers already paying more for tea, flowers, rice and herbs
Southwest China's drought has caused the prices of goods to soar, affecting much of the food chain, including flowers, tea, herbs, fruit and grain.
"The total trading volume of flowers has decreased by 30 to 40 percent this spring, and the wholesale prices of flowers have jumped," Zhang Li, deputy manager of Kunming international flower auction trading center company, told China Daily on Monday.
"The price of baby's breath has tripled to about 30 yuan ($4.4) per kg," Yang Liu, the flower company's auctioneer, said on Monday.
"Baby's breath has a bigger need for water and that's why its price has soared," he said.
But high prices do not mean high quality. Wang Ruiting, 33, who has run the Red Leaf flower shop for four years in Kunming, is upset at the poor flower quality these days.
"My flowers have pale colors, smaller sizes and fewer petals due to the drought," he said on Monday.
As the main growing and exporting base for Pu'er, a popular tea across the country, Yunnan's drought also is influencing the mood of tea investors.
Tea connoisseurs and speculators usually pay a high price for ripe Pu'er tea, up to thousands of dollars per tea cake.
"I expect the price of Pu'er tea to keep increasing, as there is less spring tea provided to the market due to the drought," Wang Xiaoyan, a saleswoman of Tianfu Teashop in Kunming, said on Monday.
About 20 to 30 percent of spring tea could not picked on time, and the severe drought has affected more than 200,000 hectares of tea farms, said Yu Yuqi, a businessman who runs the Sanqi flower company in Yunnan. Yu said the drought might have brought a good chance to make a lot of money.
"Sanqi, or pseudo-ginseng, is one of the most widely used herbs with huge market potential. Many farmers dug Sanqi in advance because of the drought," he told China Daily on Monday.
"So I plan to purchase as much as I can from farmers, and sell it at an increased market price, which has already doubled," he said.
"Everything is much more expensive in the supermarket, from fruits to vegetables. The price has doubled," a Kunming citizen surnamed Guo said on Monday.
Many businessmen are seeking new grain purchasing channels in face of the loss caused by the drought in Yunnan and neighboring Guizhou provinces.
"I saw many new people from Yunnan and Guizhou purchasing rice from our market last week. In the past, we usually only did business with local buyers," a businessman surnamed Zhou was quoted by local media on Monday.
Zhou said buyers bought about 300 tons of rice from him yesterday, and he thinks they've purchased at least 2,000 tons of rice in the Panxi Grain and Oil Wholesale Market in Sichuan province.
The severe drought has affected 51 million Chinese and left more than 16 million people and 11 million livestock without enough drinking water, China's State Commission of Disaster Relief said on Friday.
Since autumn last year, Southwest China, including Yunnan, Sichuan and Guizhou provinces and Chongqing municipality, and South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region have received only half their annual average rainfall, causing water supplies to be depleted.
In Anshun, Guizhou province, the Huangguoshu Waterfall - also known as Yellow Fruit Waterfall, the largest waterfall in China and in all of Asia - is facing the worst water scarcity in its history as the city is hit by a severe drought that has made more than 90 percent of the river and reservoir dry up.
To balance the water use at the scenic spot and to fight the drought, Huangguoshu reservoir stores the water at night and releases it during the day.
The drought also has put a damper on the Dai people in southern Yunnan, who have been asked to use water sprayers instead of buckets to drench each other during their annual Water Splashing Festival.