BEIJING, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- China's Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) said Thursday that the drought-hit areas in the country's major wheat-growing regions declined as of Wednesday in comparison with one week ago, but the situation remains grim because the drought might last through February.
As of Wednesday, the drought had affected 99.85 million mu (6.66 million hectares) of crops in eight wheat-producing provinces, including Henan and Shandong.
Of the total area stricken by the drought, 18.06 million mu were severely affected by the lingering dry weather, the MOA data showed.
The data also showed the affected areas were reduced by 16.1 million mu compared with a week ago. However, the situation remains challenging because the ongoing drought persists in regions that have seen little rain or snow recently.
Meanwhile, areas that experienced snow or rain last week may again experience drought due to rising temperatures, said Guo Tiancai, a professor with the Henan Agricultural University.
Guo said that meteorological forecast show that temperatures in the wheat-growing regions in north China would be higher while there would be less rain during the rest of the month.
He added the temperature would be higher compared with the same period in normal years, which would threaten wheat production.
The central government is encouraging cloud-seeding efforts to assist production. The central government budget on Monday earmarked 7.5 million yuan to support meteorological departments in drought-plagued provinces to conduct activities for seeding clouds and making rain.