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China to spend $1 billion to help battle drought

11 Feb

The meteorological department of Yichuan county in Luoyang, Henan province, conducts cloud seeding, by firing chemicals, to generate snow on Wednesday to alleviate the severe winter drought. Photo/China Daily

In China, 2.6 million people suffer shortages of drinking water.

BEIJING – The government will spend $1 billion to battle the drought plaguing huge areas in the north, as wheat prices continued their climb and the UN warned of serious consequences for the winter harvest. Some 2.57 million people and 2.79 million livestock are suffering from drinking water shortages, official figures showed.

The drought is the worst in six decades in many areas, and has left a swathe of grain-producing regions reeling from a lack of any significant rainfall in more than three months.

The government will spend at least 6.7 billion yuan ($1.02 billion) to divert water to affected areas, construct emergency wells and irrigation facilities, and take other measures, the State Council, or the Cabinet, said in a statement on Wednesday after an executive meeting chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao.

The move was included in a 10-measure package to spur grain production and tackle the persisting drought, which poses a grave threat to wheat production.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) also issued a warning on Tuesday over the impact on the winter wheat crop.

“The ongoing drought is potentially a very serious problem,” the Rome-based agency said.

At the same time on the other side of the world, the FAO raises alert on high flooding risks in parts of southern Africa

Thousands of hectares of agricultural land and crops have been damaged by floods and heavy rains in parts of southern Africa, and more damage may occur in the coming weeks if above normal rains persist. This is raising concern about the food security of the affected population in the poorer parts of the sub-region over the coming months.  Read more

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