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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Lawmakers satisfying constituencies

(Xinhua)

08:15, February 27, 2012

BEIJING, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) -- Planting and irrigation are becoming easier for farmer Hou Wenzhang in Yingpantai Village in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, as a drip irrigation system has been built in the area.

The 61-year-old Hou, however, often recalls the hard times when he and his fellow villagers could not find enough water to irrigate farmlands.

"The corn output of my farmland was merely 400 kg per mu (about 0.067 hectare) four years ago due to water shortage," said Hou who has been toiling on farmland for decades, adding that the output today increases by half thanks to drip irrigation pipes.

Hou's ten-mu field has been covered with the drip irrigation pipes that water the field every four hours.

The system uses water in an efficient way and saves labor. "I don't need to be in the farmland all the time," Hou said.

The central part of the Muslim-inhabited region is one of China's most drought-stricken areas, with 760,000 of the 1.36 million rural population having inadequate access to drinking water.

In March 2008, a proposal suggesting that the government build a water conservation irrigation project in the region was submitted by deputies of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC) in Ningxia to the NPC, the country's top legislature.

NPC Deputy Yuan Jinlin, also director of the Ningxia Development and Reform Commission, said the regional poverty is rooted in water shortage.

"Water was such a luxury in the region that people used to lock their water cellars before going out," Yuan said.

Lu Xinping, another national lawmaker and a middle school teacher in Yinchuan, capital of Ningxia, recalled that "local farmers used to toil on irrigation, but water was not used efficiently and crops did not grow well."

An official with the Ningxia regional people's congress said that many of the 10th NPC deputies from Ningxia, with a term from 2003 to 2007, and the 11th NPC deputies, who serve their lawmaking duty from 2008, worked on the proposal.

The 10th NPC deputies made many field studies for the proposal, discussed it and revised it, while the 11th NPC deputies further revised and submitted the proposal to the top legislature.

The proposal was considered by the NPC Standing Committee and passed to the Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Agriculture, as well as the State Council office on poverty relief.

The top legislature urged the ministries to respond to the proposal.

The ministries decided to build a highly-efficient irrigation system that would cover 1.15 million mu in five years in central Ningxia, with an investment of 1.12 billion yuan (178 million U.S. dollars).

By the end of 2011, the irrigation system covered 1.09 million mu of farmland. More than 200,000 local villagers, including Hou, benefit from the project.

Li Zhenqi, a farm irrigation official in Ningxia, said under the conservation project, water consumed per mu was only one fifth that of conventional methods.

Yuan said in recent years, national lawmakers from Ningxia submitted several proposals on water shortage, and the national legislature asked related ministries to help tackle those problems.

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