China facing food shortages due to drought, U.N. agency reports

The hardest-hit provinces are Yunnan, Gansu, Ningxia, Inner Mongolia and Hebei, the Rome-based agency said.

FAO said that an estimated 5 million hectares (12 million acres) of winter crops were thought to have been lost or damaged by inadequate rainfall and higher temperatures, and that the areas planted in spring crops have been reduced substantially.

Among the crops affected was winter wheat, the AP reports.

The drought has hit some of China's poorest areas.

Last week, the Chinese government said that drought was threatening drinking water for 14 million people in northern China. Even China's capital, Beijing, could face shortages following seven years in which annual rainfall averaged just 70 percent of normal, according to the official Chinese news agency Xinhua.