China / Society

Drought could end 11 years of harvest growth

By Xinhua in Zhengzhou (China Daily) Updated: 2014-08-09 07:40

Drought could end 11 years of harvest growth

A water channel in Jun county, Henan province is a mass of huge cracks due to severe drought, July 28, 2014. The province is experiencing far-reaching water shortages at a time when it should be flood season. [Photo/IC] 

A severe drought in China's major crop-producing regions threatens to end 11 consecutive years of annual growth in the country's harvest.

The drought, affecting 4 million hectares of farmland, has cut the agricultural water supply in provinces including Henan, Hubei, Shandong and Liaoning, and shows no sign of abating.

Drought could end 11 years of harvest growth
Drought persists in Central China's Henan

It coincides with one of the most critical periods of cultivation, according to agricultural experts.

Crops on more than 560,000 hectares of farmland have been reduced, according to the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.

Irrigation costs have doubled or even tripled, prompting some farmers to refrain from planting.

Some villagers gave up because they figured that proceeds from their crops could never cover the cost of irrigation, said Liu Luying, village head in Tielu, Henan.

Agriculture Minister Han Changfu said the ministry's goal is to make sure crops are reduced as little as possible in severely hit regions, while ensuring they increase as much as possible in areas not affected by the drought.

The Agriculture Ministry has sent 11 teams of officials and experts to drought-ravaged places to encourage best practices in disaster relief.

Rainfall in North China has declined by 35 percent, and in Central China by 21 percent from last year, according to the National Meteorological Center.

Henan, which produces one-tenth of China's crops, has received only one-third of the rainfall it had by this point last year.

While intensive irrigation has eased conditions in some areas, about 35 percent of Henan's small reservoirs have dried up, and half of its small and medium-sized rivers have been cut off.

The groundwater level in some mountainous regions has declined by 15 meters on average.

Meanwhile, recent extreme high temperatures in North China worsened the situation, according to agricultural and meteorological authorities.

Authorities in Xinjiang said one of the region's major crop-producing areas is having its most severe drought since 1991.

More than 80,000 hectares of farmland in the Ili valley, Xinjiang's major grain-producing area, have been affected. Wheat, corn and rapeseed crops are estimated to be reduced by more than 40 percent.

"We have to give up on the crops. The more we invest, the more we could lose," said Kurbanjan, a farmer in Qong Bura, a town in the Qapqal Xibe autonomous county.

The drought has also disrupted water supply to 45 villages, and 4 million head of livestock cannot find enough grass to feed on, the local government said.

It has earmarked 10 million yuan ($1.62 million) to finance for drought-relief efforts, including clearing trenches and building dams.

The allocation of water resources is now focused on high-yield farmland, cash crops and cattle ranching.

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