GUIYANG, April 5 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao went on an inspection tour in the drought-hit southwest Guizhou Province Saturday to Monday, meeting people there, seeing the dry conditions first hand and discussing relief measures with officials.
Normally at this time of year spring planting would be in full swing, but the drought has made farming impossible in parts of the province.
The premier visited the worst-hit Qianxinan Buyei and Miao Autonomous Prefecture. It was his third time this year to visit the drought afflicted southwest.
Wen went to Minhang Village, where wheat seedlings were all withered because of the drought.
Wen squatted, examining the dry seedlings and soil.
"The government, the Party, as well as the people nationwide all have the greatest sympathy for you," Wen said to the villagers surrounding him.
"We feel more confident now after seeing the premier," some villagers said.
Besides the troubles with farming, the drought had also resulted in a scarcity of drinking water, which the premier was very concerned about.
He went to the water tank in every village and checked the level, and he also went to farmers' kitchens to check their water jars.
He said fire fighters must deliver drinking water first to the old and sick, and then to people living alone.
Wen called on agricultural scientists to develop drought-resistant technologies for the area.
"Spring ploughing is a crucial period, we must try our best to protect the seeds, ensure proper irrigation, enlarge the cropland area and plant drought-resistant crops such as potatoes, corn and tobacco," Wen said.
Guizhou is one of the poorest provinces in the country, with serious environment problems such as desertification and persistent water shortages.
The premier stressed action should be taken immediately to solve the province's environmental problems.
He urged local government to increase its water conservancy building, as well as desertification control and generally improve the environment.
"With united efforts from both the government and the Party, the people and the military, we can definitely overcome the drought and prepare for the area's long-term development as well," Wen said.
Wen requested local government make plans for water conservancy building, to install more small-sized water tanks and other facilities for water saving.
On Sunday afternoon, Wen visited Lengdong county, where villagers had succeeded in planting honeysuckle plants on a stony cliff.
Though the drought had withered a large area of the honeysuckle, the local people did not give up hope and invented a particular way to irrigate the plants.
"People's strong wish is more valuable than material things, which is needed both for the disaster relief work and future development in the area," Wen said.