Chinese President, Premier order all-out anti-drought efforts
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 on Feb. 5.
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.
People irrigate the wheat field at Xiaolu Village in Yuzhou, a city in central China's Henan Province, on Feb. 4, 2009. Henan, China's major grain producer, issued a red alert for drought on Jan. 29. The provincial meteorological bureau said the drought is the worst since 1951. The drought has affected 63 percent of the province's 5.26 million hectares of wheat. (Xinhua/Niu Shupei)
Lack of rainfall has led to severe drought in northern China, leaving about 141 million mu (9.3 million hectares) wheat or 43 percent of the country's total affected, according to the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA).
About 145 million mu crops have been affected by the drought nationwide, or 40 million mu more than the same period last winter.
Government at all levels should give anti-drought work a priority in an effort to stabilize grain production, increase farmers' income and ensure agricultural production, the State Council said.
Relevant departments in local regions were asked to enhance farmland management, mobilize human resources, ensure technology service and enlarge irrigation areas.
Efforts should also go to build emergency water resources projects and carry out artificial precipitation to alleviate water shortage and ensure drinking water for both people and livestock. The Ministry of Water Resources also said it would enhance supervision and launch emergency plan when necessary.
Relevant departments should allocate special funds to aid poverty-stricken people in rural areas.
The Cabinet said it will send working teams to eight drought-hit provinces to discuss anti-drought procedures. The MOA has already sent 12 working teams of experts to the drought-hit provinces, to instruct farmers on drought relief work.
Plant diseases and pest prevention were discussed and local governments were advised to supervise and prevent the spread of severe animal diseases.
Efforts should also be made to monitor or combat forestry fire, upgrade anti-disaster ability and avoid casualty, the State Council said.
Photo taken on Feb. 5, 2009 shows a dead wheat seedling in the farmland of Taiping township of Huining County, northwest China's Gansu Province. The county has suffered from serious drought since September 2008 with about 150,667 hektares of farmland and 184,000 people and 326,000 livestocks short of water. (Xinhua/Han Chuanhao)
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