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China warns of wheat disease epidemic, control efforts urgent
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10:04, February 07, 2009

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The Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) warned Friday of the widespread of the fungus Puccinia striiformis, also known as stripe rust, a wheat disease that could cause huge losses.

It is bad news for China's summer harvest as the nation continues its war against rare drought conditions.

The fungus, one of the most dangerous wheat diseases, was likely to prevail across the nation due to the abnormal climate, MOA said in an emergency notice.

The disease has affected more than 11.3 million mu (753,000 hectares) of wheat in seven provinces by Feb. 5, 4.6 million mu more than the same period last year.

The northwestern Gansu and Ningxia saw the worst outbreak in 19years.The situation in the southwestern Sichuan and Guizhou provinces was worse than ever before, according to data released by the MOA on Friday.

The ministry urged local authorities to attach great importance to disease control while fighting against the rare drought that has gripped north China. Local government should take preemptive measures to protect the summer harvest.

Disease control knowledge should be spread via television, radio, text message and print bulletins to keep every farmer well-informed, MOA said.

The ministry will also enhance crackdown on fake pesticide producers to scams targeted at desperate farmers.

China's wheat harvest this year could be threatened as the unprecedented drought has affected 161 million mu of crops in northern China as of Feb. 6, leaving 4.37 million people and 2.1 million livestock short of drinking water, according to data released by the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.

Source: Xinhua

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