Drought is affecting 26.7 million hectares of farmland and reducing China's grain output by around 30 million tons each year, a senior agricultural official said.
Wei Chao'an, vice minister of Agriculture, said agriculture accounted for 64 percent of the country's total water consumption and is key to water conservation for the whole of society.
"It is therefore a pressing task to promote the use of water saving techniques in agriculture and improve the water consumption efficiency," Wei said at a meeting on farmland water conservation held in Changzhi city, northern Shanxi Province.
He said that China is short of another 30 billion cubic meters of water to irrigate its 121.8 million hectares of farmland.
The Chinese government has in recent years invested more than 700 million yuan (US$91.3 million) to equip 666,700 hectares of land with water saving technologies, the vice minister said.
The initiative has helped to absorb 2.7 billion cubic meters of rain water per year and save 1,260 cubic meters of water per hectare, he said.
(Xinhua News Agency June 11, 2007)