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China to Build More Irrigation Works Eying Rural Development
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Farmer Yang Shaoyong now doesn't have to worry that his crops will be afflicted with drought as a water conservancy pool near his farmland can collect enough water from rainfall for irrigation.


A year ago, with the aid of the local government, Yang built a water conservancy pool capable of holding 100 cubic meters of water on his farmland, which helps solve the problem of water shortage for irrigation.


"Before, the crops did not grow well because of lack of irrigation water. Now, the farmland yields more thanks to the pool," said Yang, who lives in an arid and mountainous village in Southwest China's Sichuan Province.


In the past five years, the province has built more than 1.6 million water conservancy pools to benefit 1.5 million farmers, said a top provincial water resource official.


"But there are still 660,000 hectares of arable land that lack irrigation in the province, resulting in a loss of 500 million kilograms of grain per year," the official said


Statistics from China's Ministry of Water Resources show the area of farmlands affected by drought in China hit an average of 20 million hectares per year, which lead to a reduction of 28 billion kilograms of grain output annually.


To tackle water shortage for irrigation, China will build more than 17 million irrigation works in the rural areas of the northwestern, southwestern and northern parts of the country by 2010, where annual rainfall can reach 250 millimeters, according to a new five-year plan for water resources use from the ministry.


In addition to irrigation works for collecting rainfall, water-saving irrigation has become increasingly popular among farmers in central China's Henan Province.


The farmlands with water-saving irrigation have hit 500,000 hectares over the past five years in the province, which can save about 1.7 billion cubic meters of water annually, said Wang Tieniu, deputy director of the provincial department of water resources.


"The province will speed up efforts in the coming five years to build and rebuild more water-saving irrigation works in its poverty-stricken and drought-hit areas," he said.


According to the new five-year plan for water resources use, China plans to increase its water-saving irrigation areas by 10 million hectares by 2010, said Minister of Water Resources Wang Shucheng.


(Xinhua News Agency March 16, 2006)

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