In many parts of northern China, light rain and the desperate efforts of the administration have been helping ease the country's worst drought for half a century. Meanwhile the media has been flooded with stories of constant inspections and local irrigation projects, as well as heartbroken farmers determined to save their harvest.
Farmers dig a channel to draw water into their field last week in Xijie village, Henan province. The drought has severely affected local people's daily life. [Gao Shanyue/China Daily]
But all is quiet in central Henan, the worst-hit region during an unprecedented dry spell that, as of Monday, had affected 136 million mu (9.1 million hectares) of winter wheat in eight major producing provinces, while leaving 3.5 million people and 1.66 million livestock with no access to drinking water.
You would be hard pressed to find farmers and soldiers irrigating fields around the clock and trying to secure another summer harvest with water pumps bought with central emergency funds in Pingdingshan, though, a city which boasts rich water resources.
Rarely anyone is seen working the winter wheat fields across its vast countryside, where the local water resources chief has said only 65 percent of its 3.06 million mu (204,000 hectares) of farmland can be irrigated "no matter what we do".
"The fields that could be saved have been saved," said farmer Gao Junhui, 37, as he sat in his tiny wooden chair in the fields around Gaozhuang village. "The battle is done."
Central authorities warned the drought may continue until March and called for persistent efforts to combat it. But residents like Guo have already done their best with what they have.
Still, deputy village Party chief Li Gang complained he had to spend days using "loud speakers in just about every field" getting farmers to irrigate. "Only a few were willing," he said.