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China Daily Website

Water conservation a top priority

Updated: 2012-11-19 21:18
By Jin Zhu (

China will intensify its efforts on water conservation to ensure grain security, promote the well-being of people and mitigate damage from natural disasters.

Addressing a national video and teleconference on Nov 19, Vice-Premier Hui Liangyu said the central government spent a record 780.7 billion yuan ($125 billion) on water conservation since 2002, 2.8 times as much as it did from 1949 to 2001.

The money has been primarily used to ensure the supply of safe drinking water to about 326 million rural residents, reinforce 2,425 large and medium sized reservoirs, 12,000 small reservoirs and harness 2,200 local rivers, he said.

The moves have contributed to China's booming agricultural production, especially as the country was faced with severe challenges over the past 10 years, he said.

China's grain output was recorded as being 571 million metric tons in 2011, the eighth consecutive year of harvest growth, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Given a bumper summer harvest recorded in October, this year will see grain output increase from last year, the Ministry of Agriculture said earlier.

"But China still needs to rely on imports to meet the demand for a few agricultural products such as soybean, so we still mainly rely on import," the vice-premier said.

It will be increasingly arduous to ensure the country's grain security and the supply of major agricultural products, Hui said.

Nearly 170 million rural residents do not currently have access to safe drinking water, according to the conference.

China pledged to spend 4 trillion yuan on water conservation infrastructure over the next decade, according to a policy document issued in early 2011.

To ensure meeting the targeted expenditure, local governments should set aside 10 percent of their revenue accrued from land sales for farming irrigation projects, which is the weakest link in the water sector, according to the policy.

More efforts will be strengthened to expand irrigated farmland, accelerate construction of farm irrigation facilities, as well as improve monitoring on water quality, said Chen Lei, the minister of water resources.