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Drought Halts Spring Planting in Hebei and Hainan Provinces
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Drought has prevented spring planting on more than a million hectares and continues to threaten people and livestock in both Hebei Province near Beijing and Hainan Province far to the south.


Hebei's Bureau of Water Resources said the province has had an average monthly rainfall of just 13 millimeters since last November, a third less than normal.


This spring crops were not planted on 1.47 million hectares of farmland for lack of irrigation, said the provincial bureau of agriculture.


Some 380,000 people in the province have been suffering from a shortage of drinking water.


About 1.7 billion cu m of water is available for irrigation this spring, 500 million cubic meters less than a year ago.



On the tropical island of Hainan Province, 191,000 people and 52,000 heads of livestock are coping with water shortages, say sources from Hainan Provincial Office of Drought Control.


More than 89,300 hectares of crops have been affected by the drought.


Additionally, over 370 reservoirs and ponds have been dried up across Hainan, which is a major agricultural base. Thirteen other reservoirs have dropped to the lowest marker.


There has been no runoff in 21 rivers in the southwestern part of Hainan, said Wang Zhenxing, deputy director of the Hainan office.


The Ministry of Finance and the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters have allotted 28 million yuan (US$3.5 million) to Hainan to help alleviate the affects of the drought. The province has contributed 39 million yuan (US$4.8 million) to the effort.


Local government officials are helping farmers grow drought-resistant crops and implement water conservation measures.


(Xinhua News Agency April 13, 2007)

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