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Crops crippled by 100-day drought

(06/07/2001) (China Daily)


Persistent drought in northwestern and northern China has put a strangle hold on this year's crops.

The drought is affecting more than 23 million hectares of non-irrigated farmland in Liaoning, Hebei, Henan, Shandong, Shaanxi, Inner Mongolia and other provinces, according to sources with the National Headquarters for Fighting against Floods and Drought.

A total of 8.9 million hectares of land has come up with no harvest at all.

So far the Ministry of Agriculture has not reported any other statistics on how much the drought has affected the harvest of this year's summer crops, but it is obvious that a good harvest is a near-impossible hope.

In Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, the per mu yield of wheat had decreased to 100 kilograms, only about half of the usual, said Professor Han Siming at Northwest Agriculture University.

The drought has also affected the sowing cycles for autumn crops.

By the end of May, more than 4.26 million hectares of cultivable land had missed the chance for planting because it was too dry.

Seedlings in about 730,000 hectares of land never germinated at all.

In addition, rice planting became impossible in 1.53 million hectares of paddy land.

The Ministry of Agriculture has declined to predict whether the drought, which might cause a sharp decrease in crop production, would affect the import and export of grain and other agricultural products this year.

Unusually dry weather, which has lasted for about 100 days, is also threatening the lives of 15.8 million people by causing a shortage of drinking water.

Local governments have called on people to conserve water. By Tuesday, 3 billion yuan (US$363 million) had been allocated to the anti-drought drive which affects 30.4 million people across the country.

(Original Len: 2326 Condensed Len: 2617)

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