China produced less rice in the first harvest period of the year compared to 2016 due to decreases in planting area and yield, official data showed.
The country produced 31.74 million tonnes of "early rice," planted in spring and harvested in early summer. This was a decrease of more than 1 million tonnes, or 3.2 percent from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said.
China's early rice planting area for the year stood at 5.46 million hectares, 2.8 percent less than last year, and yield per hectare edged down 0.4 percent to 5.81 tonnes.
NBS statistician Hou Rui said the falling planting area was due to a lack of rural labor, improved agricultural structure and crop rotation. He said the decline of the yield per hectare was mainly due to meteorological disasters.
Early rice is mainly planted in eight central and southern provincial regions: Zhejiang, Anhui, Fujian, Jiangxi, Hubei, Hunan, Guangdong and Guangxi.
Rice is a staple food in China, and its total grain output consists of three parts -- early rice, summer grain and autumn production. Autumn grain crops, which include corn and middle- and late-season rice, account for the bulk of the grain production.