Chinese premier calls for stronger efforts to combat drought

09:24, June 05, 2011      

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Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (1st L) speaks while presiding over a seminar concerning the anti-drought efforts that are currently underway in provinces of Jiangsu, Anhui, Jiangxi, Hubei and Hunan in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, June 4, 2011. (Xinhua/Li Tao)

Premier Wen Jiabao on Saturday called for stronger efforts to combat a lingering drought that has dried up lakes and withered crops in the country's central and eastern provinces.

Conducting effective drought relief work is critical for the stable development of food and agriculture as well as steadily boosting rural incomes, Wen told a seminar during his ongoing inspection tour in Wuhan, capital city of central Hubei Province.

Wen's remarks came as the worst drought in 60 years continues to ravage the middle and lower parts of the Yangtze River basin. These areas, as important agricultural production bases, are of strategic significance for the country's economic and social development, said Wen.

"The drought relief work is important for the country to maintain stable and rapid economic growth and manage inflation expectations," he said.

He urged the drought-hit provinces and related authorities to overcome the adverse impacts on agriculture and to take a scientific approach to cope with the disaster.

While stressing the importance of agricultural production, Wen also called for efforts to ensure water supply for people's daily needs, especially with regard to supply of safe drinking water.

He said he hoped the Yangtze River's Three Gorges Dam and other hydroelectric projects would adjust their water levels appropriately to help deal with the drought.

The central government recently increased funding for the drought relief work and subsidies to help farmers buy products, such as fish fry, seeds and fertilizer, to increase output, according to Wen.

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