As parts of China suffer their worst drought in 50 years, the government is turning to "weather modification" to avert disaster.
The Yangtze River basin supports more than 400 million people. But this year, the monsoon rains that normally flood the region each Spring, simply did not come.
More than a thousand small lakes are on the brink of drying up, and have been declared "dead" by the authorities. Millions of people face shortages of drinking water.
The trade that normally thrives along southern China's network of rivers and canals has also turned sluggish.
On some stretches of the Yangtze, water levels have fallen to record lows, forcing the authorities to halt shipping.
Several thousand cargo boats have been grounded along one canal in Shandong Province.
But the drought's biggest impact will be felt by China's grain farmers. Without water their crops could fail; at best they will harvest a fraction of what they normally do.
To overcome the shortfall, China will likely buy grain from overseas. But economists warn its purchasing power could send global food prices spiralling, making grain impossibly expensive for some poorer countries.
In order to avert the worst effects of the drought, the Chinese Government has turned to "weather modification" - firing liquid nitrogen-filled rockets into the sky to encourage precipitation.
The same technique was used during the 2008 Beijing Olympics in order to ensure good weather for the opening ceremony.
Over 300 rockets were fired off last weekend alone, with some light rain resulting in parts of central China.