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NE China province braces for drought
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Different localities in northeast China's Liaoning Province have been taking pains to combat a drought that has forced 670,000 residents, plus 230,000 head of livestock, out of drinking water.

Local governments in Liaoning have raised 23 million yuan (about 3.15 million U.S. dollars) on their own and have been busy organizing personnel to dredge, expand and reinforce existing water conservation facilities, said a local source.

By late March, the province had constructed more than new 1,700 wells and built more than 700 new water conservation works. About 33,333 hectares of arable land had been irrigated.

Though farming accounts for a comparatively small proportion of the local economy of Liaoning, an industrial giant in China, the province remains one of the country's 13 key commodity grain production bases.

Spring farming work begins next week in this northeast province where the prime crops produced are maize and rice.

From Jan. 1 to April 1, the province had only averaged a rainfall of 15.8 millimeters, a drop of 78 percent from the same period last year.

In total, 66 reservoirs in Liaoning have dried up, while about 20,000 motor pump wells could not produce enough water. Farmlands lacking moisture totaled 1.28 million hectares.

The provincial government has sent down supervisory groups to monitor drought control efforts and preparation for spring farming in 14 cities, according the provincial government source.

In the meantime, the province has transferred 18 million yuan in special grants from the state to support drought fighting efforts in northwestern areas of Liaoning where its main grains producing bases are located.

(Xinhua News Agency April 13, 2008)

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