Drought has affected half a million hectares of cropland in east China's Shandong Province due to a sharp reduction of rainfall this year, local climate authorities said.
The average rainfall in Shandong was only 0.7 millimeters in January, down 91 percent from the average in previous years, said Fan Liju, an engineer with the Shandong Climate Center.
The drought would continue as temperatures in most parts of the province were expected to be near or slightly higher than previous years and no significant rainfall was forecast, Fan said.
The affected cropland accounted for 8 percent of the total in the province, one of the country's major grain producers.
Shandong had 2.7 million hectares of cropland affected by drought last year, when its average rainfall was 570 millimeters, down 16 percent from the average in previous years.
A report issued by the Central Meteorological Bureau on Saturday indicated that drought had extended to more places in northeast, east, northwest and southwest China in the past month.
(Xinhua News Agency February 6, 2007)