Radio France International (RFI) reported that farmers face problems with vegetable harvesting in the countryside and the food supply chain. China’s extreme lockdown measures have everything to do with this situation.
A report by Stéphane Lagarde—an RFI’s correspondent in Beijing, says that lettuce is only for feeding chickens and ducks, according to a 78-year-old vegetable farmer surnamed Zhang. Farmers are also suffering the same situation in some places in the south and other areas. They cannot get any money from the vegetable fields that rot every day.
Zhang said that even though farmers want to sell vegetables, government policies will not allow it, everywhere is blocked, and traders will not come to get their vegetables. There are trucks on the farm that can deliver goods, but it is useless because the wholesale markets refuse to accept their products.
Lagarde stated that he found service stations on highways still closed, and restaurants and schools haven’t reopened in Beijing. Anyway, it’s too late. These vegetables should have been delivered two weeks ago.
Shanghai also has a similar situation. A melon farmer in Pudong said he had lost 200 tons of watermelons.
Now, some people compare the impact of the lockdown on China’s fruit and vegetable supply chains to the great famine of the 1960s.
After Mao Zedong launched the Great Leap Forward, the rural labor force was sent to exploit coal mines and smelt iron and steel, leading to a shortage of people in the countryside during the autumn harvest season, resulting in “high yield no harvest.” But the government still collected all the food from the people, including what was left to eat themselves, leading to three years of great famine.
The Chinese government’s “zero covid” campaign continues to harm the economy and people’s livelihoods, and the countryside has no way out to solve problems. As NTDTV reported on June 3, after the delay of the spring harvest, the summer harvest in northern China is also being affected. In many places, migrant workers are restricted from going back to their hometown to harvest wheat, and where they can, they need to comply with the nucleic acid certification to go to the fields.
The main wheat-producing regions of China are entering the harvest season, but the Chinese government’s policy has hindered the wheat harvest.
A video posted on Youmaker shows a field in an unknown location in China with a group of farmers harvesting wheat. Suddenly, an official asks them to turn off the machine and do nucleic acid tests. Farmers can’t go to the field to harvest without a nucleic acid test certificate within 48 hours. An elderly among them raises his voice and argues with the official.
NTDTV cited Mainland China’s “Economic Observation” newspaper saying that farmers are afraid of the rain during wheat harvest. So in the central wheat-producing region in Henan, the golden time for the annual wheat harvest is from May 25 to June 10, and wheat farmers have to race against time.
However, the wheat harvesters coming to Henan this year are having a hard time. After they enter Henan, their health code turns yellow. They must have two negative nucleic acid test results for three consecutive days, and 3+7 epidemic prevention measures (that is, report 3 days in advance, monitor health at home for 7 days) so that their health code can return to green. In addition, wheat harvesters coming from elsewhere in Henan must always keep a nucleic acid negative certificate within 48 hours, or they will not be able to work.
As NTDTV reported on June 4, the vegetable farmers in Shanghai and Beijing have suffered from the large-scale lockdown.
Vegetable farmers in Beijing wanted to sell their products, the government did not allow them
Zhang, a 78 years old vegetable farmer in a suburban area 45 km from Beijing, said that his lettuce and cabbage cannot be sold because of the pandemic, and they are rotten on the ground.
Zhang said: “I cannot recover any capital from these rotten vegetable fields! Anyone who is a vegetable farmer has this bad luck.”
He also said that farmers wanted to sell vegetables, but the government did not allow them, and the wholesale markets also refused to accept their products. As the epidemic prevention measures are not completely lifted, the distributors will not purchase their vegetables.
The lettuce redundancy and the epidemic measures decreased the prices, which afflicted the farmers in Beijing’s suburb areas. They also said that even when the government lets them re-sell, the price of these vegetables is not enough to cover the transport costs.
Mr. Zhang said: “I fed chickens and ducks these unable-to-sell vegetables” because Beijing’s epidemic situation made me lose more than 10,000 yuan.” That would be 15 hundred dollars.
He said with a helpless voice: “If we had known this, we would not have planted vegetables. Not only our village, but also all this region has been suffering. Anyway, the lettuce is excessive this year.”
Shanghai’s agricultural products: people in urban areas cannot buy vegetables, farmers cannot sell them
The farmers in Shanghai and Beijing had been suffering this similar circumstance, as they could not sell harvested vegetables.
Due to the restrictions in Shanghai, almost all of the transport services stopped operating. The vegetables of the farmers in Shanghai’s suburb area were all rotten in the field and could not be transported to the city. Simultaneously, Shanghai’s citizens were locked in their houses and cried for help on the Internet because they could not buy food.
At the end of April, a young farmer in Wan’nong village, Shanghai city posted a video showing the lettuces in her vegetable field were rotten in some peduncles, the broccolis were flowering, and any unable-to-sell vegetable was flowering.
“Currently, Shanghai’s people cannot buy vegetables while a vegetable dealer like us cannot sell any products.” She explained that there was no epidemic in her planting fields. “From April 1 to now, all our vegetable distributor staff have not been infected, but the government still restricts transport of our vegetables to Shanghai.”
About when these vegetables will be sold, the young vegetable farmer reluctantly said: “We are just waiting indefinitely.”
The “zero COVID” policy threatening food production officially attracted some leaders’ attention. According to People’s Daily Online, Deputy Director of Agricultural Mechanization Management Bureau Wang Jiayun declared on May 2 that from May 29, 9 mission groups alternately travel to related provinces to “guide and coordinate,” to ensure the wheat harvest is not affected by the pandemic.
However, the policy to ensure the wheat harvest is not like epidemic prevention; all-level officials take the stance of “prioritizing epidemic prevention” to protect their ‘chair.’ The monitoring effectiveness of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs is still questioned.
Even though it has entered the twenty-first century, the CCP’s unruly actions still remind the Chinese people of the great famine.