CHINA> Regional
Hopes for good harvest loom in Henan: official
Updated: 2009-02-18 10:49

HONG KONG -- It is still possible for farmers in China's leading wheat producing province to reap a fairly good harvest this summer if nothing close to a big flood comes to add to woes caused by a severe drought, a high ranking official of China's central province Henan said here Tuesday.

Speaking at a press conference, Xu Guangchun, secretary of the provincial committee of the Communist Party of China, said about 95 percent of the wheat farms in Henan province, which produces about a quarter of the national wheat output, had been irrigated properly before and after the recent Lunar New Year, or January 26.

The farmers and the local governments had been trying everything possible, including using vehicles to carry water, to get local wheat farms irrigated.

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The central government had also earmarked some 400 million yuan (US$58.8 million) for fighting the drought that affected about 40 percent of the wheat farms in northern China, with 68 million yuan going to Henan, Xu said.

Xu said agricultural experts maintained that Henan still expects a fairly good harvest if there is no big disasters in the coming months.

The target set by the provincial authorities for the province was to harvest 29 million tons of wheat this summer, compared to good harvest of 30.6 million tons last summer, Xu told Hong Kong media.

"And that is not a bad harvest," he said.

The drought that has lasted for over 100 days to affect about 40 percent of the wheat farms in northern China is deemed one of the most severe. Xu said close to 50 million mu (3.3 million hectares) of Henan's 78 million mu (5.2 million hectares) wheat farms were affected.

Xu was leading a business and cultural delegation to Hong Kong on Tuesday through Friday, which was one of the province's efforts to deal with the impact of the global financial tsunami.