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Blessed with year of bumper yields
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09:27, December 09, 2008

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The heaps of golden corn cover Cui Shulan's small yard under the early morning sun, waiting to be tossed into a wooden cage raised with four stilts.

Together with her husband, Cui, 61, must pack the grain into the family granary before supplies get damp.

The shoveling is backbreaking work, but well worth it for the couple in Dongling village, Jilin province.

"I didn't expect our yield this year to reap such amounts, or I would have asked my husband to build a much bigger cage," Cui said.

Cui is just one of the farmers throughout the villages of Jilin enjoying this year's bumper harvest.

"Our corn output this year is expected to hit 17,500 kg," Cui said.

That means an income of at least 6,000 yuan ($870) more than last year's, a 30 percent increase year-on-year, she said.

In Cui's village nestled in the vast Songnen plain, trucks loaded with grain can be heard and seen recently.

"I am not worried about sales at all. These days, factories and grain processing companies all struggle to collect grain from farmers," said Wang Xueying, another Dongling farmer.

The packed corn storehouses and grain trucks seen this year in Jilin, a major agricultural center with about 13 million farmers, augurs well for the country's grain supply.

The grain output for Jilin this year will be 4 million tons more than last year, said Wang Shouchen, vice-governor of the province.

Total yield is expected to reach a record 28.5 million tons, Wang said.

The total area in the Jilin set aside for grain cultivation covered 4.6 million hectares this year, up by 6,600 hectares from last year, he said.

Just as how farmers in the region have attributed the large yields to "a gracious Mother Nature", figures from the Jilin provincial meteorological bureau showed the province enjoying this year an average precipitation of 385.1 mm from last year's 159.8mm, helping crops grow.

Rainfall in the main regions of grain output was said to be well-distributed, further aiding crop growth.

The region's average temperature in summer also stayed at 21.5 C, 0.5 C higher than the previous level.

"The ample sunshine and adequate rainfall were top contributors to the 4 million tons increase in grain," said Liu Yuying, vice-director of the Jilin provincial climate research center.

Besides good weather, officials said improved technology and management also played crucial roles in the bumper harvest.

Jilin has 62 high-yield model zones in 30 counties, with grain output of the identified areas expected to hit 15 million tons, said vice-governor Wang.

"We've made efforts to promote the use of high-quality seeds and advanced technology," said Sun Wenkun, director of the Maanshan agriculture technology promotion station.

Agricultural and technology specialists visited farmers in the fields to help them plant crops using advanced techniques on a regular basis, he said.

Similarly, more than 4.6 million farmers in Jilin have reportedly received training in agricultural practices.

Jilin invested 10.5 billion yuan in the agricultural sector this year, up 38.7 percent year-on-year, official statistics show.

The government's agricultural subsidies have helped growers focus on their fields, farmers said.

"There are five people in my family and together we received almost 2,000 yuan from the government in various subsidies. I spent the money buying fertilizers and agriculture equipment," said Li Shizhong, a farmer from Dehui city.

Most of the subsidies were handed out to farmers at the end of March, aimed at helping them with the annual spring sowing.

In a bid to further provide adequate incentives and protect farmers' interests, the central government also announced a minimum grain purchasing price.

Still, analysts have warned of the continued vulnerability of cropland to inclement weather - with drought posing the largest threat.

They have called for more water diversion projects and expansion of irrigated networks in Jilin's central and western region to maintain grain production.

Source: China Daily

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