Tue, February 10, 2009
Sci-Tech > Science > Severe drought hits N China

Drought-resistant seeds to help growers

2009-02-10 02:15:18 GMT2009-02-10 10:15:18 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

BEIJING, Feb. 10 -- The Ministry of Science and Technology has listed 20 types of drought-resistant wheat seeds to help farmers combat the worst dry spell in large parts of the country since 1951.

Though the seeds have been available in local markets, many farmers still do not know about them, Wang Xueqin, chief of the ministry's agriculture department, told China Daily Monday.

That is why the ministry has decided not only to promote the seeds, but also provide technological help to farmers who buy them, he said.

Farmers who have lost wheat seedlings to the dry spell can sow the drought-resistant seeds, which cost largely the same as the common varieties, and "reduce their losses", Wang said.

"The government will provide farmers with 50 kinds of new seed technologies and relative services, too, as part of the free drought relief work," Minister of Science and Technology Wan Gang told a meeting yesterday.

But despite the efforts it would be difficult for the country to reach last year's wheat output level of 109 million tons, the highest since 2003.

The worst drought to hit the country in more than half a century has hurt the livelihood of people in eight provinces - Hebei, Shanxi, Anhui, Jiangsu, Henan, Shandong, Shaanxi and Gansu. And till Friday, it had damaged or destroyed crops on about 158 million mu (10 million hectares).

"The crops in drought-hit regions may not survive the unexpected drops in temperature," said Wang Zhimin, a professor of China Agricultural University.

Many farmers have been using wheat seeds with a short growth period because of the warm winters in recent years, he said. But usually such seeds are not cold-resistant.

In spring, temperatures can drop drastically at nights, something such seeds cannot sustain because they don't have the special features of the stronger drought-resistant varieties, Wang Zhimin said.

Though local governments have raised their subsidy levels for farmers to help them buy more irrigation and water-saving equipment, farmers could still face heavy loses, he said. For example, a farmer in Hubei has to pay 30 yuan as water and electricity fee for every mu of land he/she irrigates, he said.

But it's too early to say if the drought will influence the price of wheat this year because that it also depends on the total output of the grain, he said.

Irrigation covered more than half of the wheat fields in the drought-hit provinces, Minister of Agriculture Sun Zhengcai said on Sunday, and 85 million mu of them have been irrigated in provinces such as Henan, Anhui, Shandong and Hebei.

(Source: China Daily)

BEIJING, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- Irrigation has covered 52.7 percent of the wheat farmland in drought-hit provinces in China by Saturday, said the Ministry of Agriculture.

A total of 85 million mu (about 5.67 hectares) of wheat land have been irrigated in eight drought-stricken provincial regions, the ministry told a meeting on Sunday. Full story

BEIJING, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has urged officials in drought-hit areas to place "top priority" on relief work as agricultural stability concerns China's bid to revive its economy.

The fight against drought has to do not only with the safety of grain supply but also with the country's efforts to stimulate domestic demand, Wen said during a visit to central China's drought-hit Henan Province on Saturday and Sunday. Full story

BEIJING, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- The Ministry of Finance (MOF) on Friday allocated 86.7 billion yuan (about 12.69 billion U.S. dollars) from its reserve to drought-hit areas in relief funds.

Of the total, 71.6 billion yuan will be given to farmers for buying relief materials, and the other 15.1 billion yuan will go to grain producers to supplement incomes. Full story

BEIJING, Feb. 7 -- A top weather expert said four to five periods of rain are expected in central China's drought-stricken Henan Province over the next three weeks.

Zhao Guoqiang, vice-deputy director of the Meteorological Administration of Henan, made the promising announcement on Thursday. Full story

BEIJING, Feb. 5 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao have ordered all-out efforts to combat the severe drought in the country's vast wheat-growing area to ensure a good summer harvest, a State Council meeting was told Thursday.

The central government on Thursday decided to earmark another 300 million yuan (44 million U.S. dollars) as drought relief fund in additional to 100 million yuan already allocated. The fund will be used to buy agricultural machinery and other production materials. Full story

BEIJING, Feb 5 (Xinhua) -- China raised the drought emergency class Thursday from level two to level one, the highest alert, in response to the worst drought to hit northern China in half a century, according to a State Council meeting.

Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao have ordered all-out efforts to combat the severe drought in the country's vast wheat-growing area to ensure a good summer harvest, according to a State Council meeting held Thursday. Full story

BEIJING, Feb. 5 (Xinhua) -- China, the world's biggest agricultural country in terms of farm population, might find it hard to bring in a good harvest this year, with a four-month drought tightening its grip on large sections of the country's northern half.

The drought has added to the woes of the nation's rural economy, which has been affected by falling commodity prices amid the global downturn. All these pressures will make it more difficult for China to stabilize grain production, increase farm incomes and expand rural markets. Full story

BEIJING, Feb. 3 (Xinhua) -- Lack of rainfall has led to severe drought in northern China, affecting more than 140 million mu (9.3 million hectares) of wheat, said the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) on Tuesday.

By February 2, 141 million mu wheat in six major grain production provinces, including Henan, Anhui, Shandong, Shanxi, Gansu and Shaanxi, were hit by drought, Agriculture Minister Sun Zhengcai said at a video conference called to coordinate drought relief efforts. Full story

BEIJING, Feb. 3 (Xinhua) -- Different levels of governments should collect strength to combat drought, which has crippled China's agriculture, said Vice Premier Hui Liangyu Tuesday.

He urged efforts to give drought-relief work top priority. Full story

BEIJING, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) -- Severe drought in north China was expected to continue as no rain has been forecasted for the next ten days, the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) and the China Meteorological Administration (CMA) said Monday.

The ministries said the current situation remained grim and called for prolonged fight against the extreme drought that began last November.

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