At least 121,000 people in south China's Hainan Province are suffering from a shortage of drinking water caused by a drought which has began in the winter.
The provincial meteorological department forecast that the lack of rain would continue in the next two months and a severe drought would occur in the province's southern and western regions.
The prolonged drought had also resulted in a shortage of 800 million cubic meters of water for agricultural production, affecting 223,333 ha of farmland, said sources from the provincial bureau of agriculture.
Xing Qiongyao, an official in charge of agriculture with Ledong, a county in southern Hainan, said the county had 9,333 ha of paddyrice fields, but farmers could only cultivate 2,000 ha because of a lack of water.
"Farmers have managed to grow drought-resistant crops such as sweet potatoes, maize and peanuts or melons on 5,333 ha," said Xing. "The remainder has to be left idle."
The water shortage has also affected power generation at Daguangba and Niululing hydropower stations, two main power producers on the island.
Many areas have been forced to adopt measures such as restrictions on power usage. In Haikou, the provincial capital, power supply departments have imposed temporary blackouts at large stores, hotels and industrial manufacturers, as well as at civilian homes.
Hainan, with a mainly subtropical climate, has been a center for out-of-season agricultural production in China. The province also relies on tourism for revenue.
(Xinhua News Agency March 21, 2007)