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Drought Plagues Farming Regions

More than 6 million hectares of farmland in the country are currently plagued by serious drought conditions, State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters officials said yesterday.


Around 6.2 million people of the nation's rural population and 3.7 million livestock are suffering drinking-water deficiencies, an official from the nation's flood control and drought relief authorities told China Daily.


The official, who asked not to be named, said the most severely drought-hit areas are in eastern Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in north China and western parts of Liaoning and Jilin provinces in China's northeast as well as parts of northwest China.


In central and western parts of Jilin Province, 1.3 million hectares of farmland are badly parched, according to local governmental official Fan Hongkui.


Fan said no precipitation is forecast in the immediate future and the drought is increasingly serious.


While local government is taking effective measures to help farmers, according to Fan, the long dry spell has caused E'lin Lake -in northwest China's Qinghai Province - to run dry.


An incomplete estimate by State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters indicates that around 840,000 hectares of farmland have become unavailable for farming due to serious drought. Crops in other areas have shriveled in the heat without moisture.


However, the official said the crisis this year, thankfully, is more of a regional case and is lighter than corresponding periods in previous years.


Some provinces and autonomous regions in north and northeast China have undergone dry weather for five consecutive years.


Meteorological experts attribute the alleviation of some drought problems to massive downpours last month in parts of northern, northwestern and southwestern China, as well as the Yellow River-Huaihe River areas.


Since mid-May, light or moderate rainy weather has hit parts of northern and northwestern China, as well as middle-or-lower reaches of the Yangtze River. That, to some degree, has helped relieve plagued areas, said Zhang Qiang, an expert with the National Climate Center at the China Meteorological Administration.


According to a forecast made by the administration, the next two months will likely see two rain belts over northern and southern China.


The northern rain belt will cover southern parts of Northeast China, western and northern parts of North China, and parts of middle-and-upper reaches of the Yellow River.


The southern belt will cause rain over eastern parts of South China and southern parts of the Yangtze River, according to the forecast.


However, remaining areas will experience little rain during the period, said Qin Dahe, director of China Meteorological Administration.


(China Daily June 9, 2004)

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