FAO praises China's moves to tackle drought

Updated: 2011-02-09 10:49
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ROME - The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Tuesday praised the Chinese government's urgent measures undertaken to tackle drought in the northern parts of the country.

The measures included increased supplementary irrigation to compensate the negative impact of low snow fall and low moisture availability and the allocation of roughly $15 billion  to support farmers' incomes and subsidize the costs of diesel, fertilizer and pesticide, according to the Rome-based agency.

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Below-normal rainfall since October 2010 in the region, which represents the country's main winter wheat producing area, has led to a persisting severe drought that could have negative effects on wheat production in the long run, said FAO.

FAO warned in a special alert that the ongoing winter drought in North China could put at risk wheat production and turn into a serious problem.

FAO estimated that some 5.16 million hectares out of a total of 14 million hectares under winter wheat are under serious threat of summer yield.

The drought has reportedly affected some 2.57 million people and 2.79 million livestock due to the shortages of drinking water, while putting under pressure wheat prices in China that have been rising rapidly in the last few months.

FAO warned that the situation in the region could become critical if temperatures further dropped this month and a spring drought followed the winter one.

The main affected provinces include Shandong, Jiangsu, Henan, Hebei and Shanxi, which together represent about 60 percent of the area planted and two-thirds of the national wheat production, FAO said.