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Locust Plague China*

Efforts made to tackle drought in North China

(06/18/2001) (China Daily)

The Ministry of Agriculture Wednesday announced a relief package for drought-affected regions in Northwest China's Qinghai Province and Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province.

The ministry dispatched seed packages and sent five anti-drought working groups to 10 provincial administrations to help combat the drought.

A total of 740,000 tons of fertilizer and 230,000 tons of diesel have been sent to more than 20 provincial administrations in North China which have been stricken with drought for the past three months.

Meanwhile, the affected regions have been urged to develop crops which are drought-proof, and to use water-saving technologies in water irrigation and crop production.

Farmers are being discouraged from planting crops which require a large amount of water. The drought is affecting more than 23 million hectares of non-irrigated farmland in Liaoning, Hebei, Henan, Shandong and Shaanxi provinces and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

The ministry said that a total of 2.9 million hectares of land produced no harvest at all and more than 4.26 million hectares was left unsown.

The drought has given rise to the threat of locust plagues. The ministry has approved special funds to kill the insects.

Vice-Premier Wen Jiabao, who is in charge of China's top administration for flood and drought relief, said this week relevant departments will provide all necessary backing to help disaster areas combat the drought.

It is still unpredictable as to how long the present drought will continue, according to weather experts.

(Original Len: 1798 Condensed Len: 2123)

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