Mon, February 09, 2009
China > Mainland > Severe drought hits N China

Irrigation covers more than half of drought-hit wheat farmland in China

2009-02-08 14:48:28 GMT2009-02-08 22:48:28 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

People irrigate a wheat field in Laocheng Township of Changge County, central China's Henan Province, Feb. 3, 2009. Henan, one of China's key wheat producing regions, has suffered from drought since Oct. 24, 2008. Some 2.9 million hectares of farmland in Henan were affected.(Xinhua/Zhao Peng)

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.

Minister Sun Zhengcai said it is of importance to fully use machines in the fight against drought.

He asked local governments to increase subsidies for farmers to buy more irrigation-related and water-saving equipments, and make every effort to expand the irrigation coverage and save water.

By Saturday, 152 million mu of wheat farmland, which accounted for 95 percent of the drought-stricken crops in China, was affected in eight provincial regions including Hebei, Shanxi, Anhui, Jiangsu, Henan, Shandong, Shaanxi and Gansu.

Rain and snow from Friday to Sunday in the southeastern part of northwest China and the southwestern part of north China has reduced the area of drought-affected farmland by 20 million mu.

China experienced the most severe drought for decades. As of Saturday, 299 million mu of crops, 4.42 million people and 2.2 million heads of livestock were affected.

The crops affected was 110 million mu more than the average level during the same period in past years.

During a visit to central China's drought-hit Henan Province on Saturday and Sunday, 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.

China has declared the highest level of emergency in response to the drought, employing artificial means to induce rains and allocating 86.7 billion yuan (about 12.69 billion U.S. dollars) as subsidies to farmers.

In addition, the central government has decided to earmark 400 million yuan to local governments for drought relief.

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