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Winter weather hits 11.87m hectares of crops
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About 11.87 million hectares of crops in China had been damaged by low temperatures or freezing weather in 20 provinces, most hit by disastrous winter storms, by Thursday, according to the monitoring of Chinese Ministry of Agriculture (MOA).


About 5.85 million hectares of crops were affected, and about 1.76 million hectares of crops would expect no yields at all this year, said the MOA.


Winter storms have plagued the country's south since mid-January, leading to widespread traffic jams, blackouts and crop loss.


Cole and other vegetables, oranges and wheat, in particular, suffered severely from the snow.


Nearly half of the cole, or about 3.26 million hectares, was hit by the freakish winter weather, as well as 2.81 million hectares of other vegetables, 1.26 million hectares of fruit trees including oranges and about 584,000 hectares of wheat, according to latest statistics from the MOA.


Transport problems in some snow-hit provinces had led to shortages and price rises of vegetables there, posing new threats to the country's rising inflation rate.


However, prices of vegetables in disaster-stricken areas had already begun to fall as the government increased supplies to these regions.


Statistics revealed that between February 6 and February 12, 170,000 tons of vegetables were shipped to 14 snow-stricken provinces, including Jiangsu, Hunan, Anhui and Guizhou, to ease a shortage of fresh produce and price increase pressures.


Vegetable prices in 14 snow-affected provinces in China monitored by the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) decreased 3.2 percent on February 12 from the average price before the Spring Festival starting on February 7, and price fall continued in the following days.


"The price of vegetables will further decrease as the weather is getting warmer," said Huang Hai, assistant minister of MOC said Thursday.


In the meantime, the country was still optimistic about this year's grain output.


The ongoing snowstorm, the worst in five decades in China, rendered limited effects on grain production, Chen Xiwen, head of the Office of the Central Leading Group on Rural Work, said earlier, as most winter grain crops were planted in the north.


China's grain output this year will be stable at around 500 million tons if no major natural disasters happen again, the State Grain Administration (SGA) said.


(Xinhua News Agency February 17, 2008)



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