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Major rice-growing areas warned against pests
Updated: 2008-05-07 17:28

The Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) on Wednesday urged the main rice-growing provinces in south and southwest China to be on the alert for two common pests, the rice plant hopper and the rice leaf roller, which have infested several provinces since early April.

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"The insects have ruined paddy fields on a much larger scale than the same period last year in the south and southwest parts of the country," the MOA said on its website.

The plant hopper is the most devastating of rice pests. The fly-like insect inserts its sucking mouth into the soft tissue of plants, extracting the sap.

Last year, plant hoppers invaded 1.2 million hectares of paddy fields in south China by early June following heavier than usual rain, which was up 40 percent over the same period in 2006, threatening the rice crop.

The China Meteorological Administration forecast that summer seasonal winds with heavy rainfall from the South China Sea would arrive about 10 days earlier this year than in previous years, creating favorable conditions for the rice pests.

The ministry called on southwestern Yunnan Province, south Guangdong Province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, which has already been beset by the pests, to allocate more funds and keep a closer eye on the pest situation in a bid to minimize losses.

Agriculture technicians had been sent to paddy fields in those regions to help farmers battle the pests, the MOA said.

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