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Persistent Spring Drought*

Nation Suffers From Persistent Spring Drought

China is suffering persistent drought over more than 23.3 million hectares of its land, the most widespread drought since 1990, which has already scorched millions of hectares of summer crops and unplanted farmland.

The spring drought, which has lasted for nearly 100 days, has mainly hit Northeast China, most areas along the Yellow River and Huaihe River and Southwest China, according to the latest report of the State Flood-Control and Drought Prevention Headquarters in Beijing.

The prolonged dry spell has also brought a shortage of drinking water for more than 16 million people and 12 million head of livestock, which are mainly in mountainous areas of Southwest China and in erosion prone areas of the loess plateau in Northwest China and the mountainous areas of the Luliang Mountains in North China's Shanxi Province and the Taihang Mountains in Shanxi and Hebei provinces.

When asked about the main causes of the drought this year, officials with the headquarters said that less rain than usual fell in most parts of China this spring.

It is reported that rainfall decreased from 30 to 90 percent in central and southern parts of Northeast China, North China, most areas along the Yellow River and Huaihe River, eastern parts of Northwest China, in Southwest China's Sichuan Province and in Yunnan Province.

It has also been noted that reservoirs in North China and Northeast China do not have sufficient water to fight the drought.

For instance, water levels in the reservoirs in Northeast China's Liaoning and Jilin provinces had dropped 46 percent and 45 percent respectively by the beginning of May, from levels at the same time of the high flow years.

Continuous sand-laden winds this spring in North China also worsened the drought conditions in this area by seriously sucking down the soil's moisture content.

Drought prevention officials said summer grain cropsare also being affected by the drought.

A total of 227,000 hectares planted in summer crops will bear nothing, while Southwest China's Sichuan and Yunnan provinces have suffered the most from the drought.

In North China, it is a foregone conclusion that wheat production will also be affected by drought, as the wheat is in its heading period and in the milk, which is the most important stage of its growth.

Experts are advising farmers to provide as much water to their fields as they can, to help the crops ripen, as there has long been little rainfall in this area.

Active measures have been adopted by local governments of drought-stricken areas to alleviate the present disaster.

Yangtze River water has been diverted to northern parts of East China's Jiangsu Province to help irrigate farmland there. Artificial rainfall has been induced in Northeast China's Liaoning and Jilin provinces, East China's Anhui Province and South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, which has effectively alleviated the drought.

Officials stress that effective management and transport of water resources should top the agenda at present.

"Faced with the drought, we have strengthened the implementation of water-saving policies in agriculture and industry, '' said Chen Lintao, an official with the Beijing Municipal Water Conservancy Bureau.

Meteorological experts said that in the coming week, there will still be no rain fall in areas of Northwest China and North China. But Yunnan Province and Northeast China will probably get some rain.

(China Daily 05/31/2001)

(Original Len: 3812 Condensed Len: 4073)

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