Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Fighting the Drought

China's wheat-producing areas are experiencing a serious drought.

According to surveys by the Ministry of Agriculture, as of February 7, 99.63 million mu (6.6 million hectares) of wheat area in Hebei, Shanxi, Jiangsu, Anhui, Shandong, Henan, Shaanxi, and Gansu Provinces had been affected by drought. The affected area accounts for 36% of the wheat area in these 8 provinces.

The Ministry has already launched grade-2 drought-mitigation work and experts work groups have been sent to give technical guidance. On February 7, Minister of Agriculture Han Changfu went to Hebei and Shandong Provinces to inspect drought-mitigation work. He stressed that each level of agriculture departments must pay great attention to drought migitation.

The “Drought Mitigation Work Program” issued on Feb 8 ordered strengthening of irrigation measures in the eight provinces. This includes speeding up distribution of funds for repair of reservoirs, digging mechanized wells and other repair and maintenance projects, digging emergency wells, and diverting or trucking water in to spread on fields.

The central government spent 1.2 billion yuan on anti-drought working, supporting 600 county-level drought service teams. It allocated 800 million yuan in drought aid, anti-drought commodity reserve funds of 200 million yuan and early delivery of 6 billion yuan in rural drinking water safety funds.

The January 27 National Grain and Oils Information Center report didn’t seem too worried about the wheat situation. They said the effects on the wheat crop are inconclusive at this point. They claimed the seedlings were in better shape than they were during the drought 2 years ago. Wheat prices have not been rising much.

The government has big reserves of wheat. The government has been offering reserve wheat for sale but not much is selling. On January 26, 4.5 million metric tons of reserve wheat were offered for sale but only 164,000 mt sold.

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