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Disasters Rip 100 Bln Yuan from Agriculture Sector
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Natural disasters and insect pests cost China's agriculture sector nearly 100 billion yuan (US$12.5 billion) in direct losses from January to August, with each farmer losing 100 yuan on average, a senior agricultural official told Xinhua on Monday.

Citing crop cultivation and stock breeding as the "worst affected sectors", Vice Minister of Agriculture Fan Xiaojian said that the severe losses have made it "an arduous task" for China to raise farmers' income.

He said that China had lost grain crops totaling 40.5 billion kilograms by August, significantly more than the whole-year losses of 30.5 billion kilograms in 2004 and 34.5 billion kilograms in 2005.

Typhoons and floods have killed 1.27 million livestock and 21 million poultry and destroyed 5.7 million square meters of stock-breeding yard.

More than 1.2 million tons of aquatic products were damaged in a water area of 5.5 million mu (about 366,667 hectares).

"So far this year, China has suffered drought, typhoons, floods, frosts and insect pests. They have been of a rare violence, " Fan said.

The recent frost in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, for instance, came very early and has affected the biggest area since the beginning of Chinese meteorological records, he noted.

To facilitate post-disaster production and prevent new disasters, Fan said that the Ministry has urged local agricultural departments to closely track weather changes and to submit reports twice a month.

Twenty-six disaster-relief squads made up of agricultural experts and technicians have been sent to rural areas to help restore the cultivation of wheat, rice, corns, beans and fruit trees, he noted.

Fan said that the Ministry has allocated a relief fund of 75 million yuan to 10 disaster-hit regions, including Fujian, Hunan, Sichuan and Jiangxi provinces and Chongqing Municipality, to secure supplies of seeds, seedlings, fertilizer, veterinary medicines and diesel oil.

"Although the harvesting of autumn grain crops is only a fortnight away, disaster prevention remains a pressing task as the risks of early frost, drought, flood, typhoon, insect pests and animal epidemic diseases still exist," Fan said.

(Xinhua News Agency September 12, 2006)

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