Thursday, February 23, 2012

3 years of drought, and it could get worse

3 years of drought, and it could get worse
Shanghai Daily
February 21, 2012
By Yang Jian

A SEVERE drought exacerbating water shortages and hindering agricultural
production in southwest China's Yunnan Province could get worse as there
is little prospect of rain any time soon, the country's weather
authority said yesterday.

Most areas in Yunnan will have sunny and cloudless weather this week,
the National Metrological Center said.

A drought that has plagued the province for the past three years has
affected 6.31 million people in 91 counties, according to provincial
civil affairs authorities. More than 2.42 million people and 1.55
million livestock are short of drinking water.

Reservoirs have been drying up, while wheat and other plants are
withering in most of the affected counties. People have to walk greater
distances to larger reservoirs to collect water.

On some reservoirs in Shilin County it is possible to drive on the
reservoir bed as the earth has dried and cracked, Xinhua news agency said.

Farmers are planting wheat and soybeans, which require less water to
grow, but even these crops are drying out. Some farmers have begun
pulling out the dried wheat to feed their buffalo, Xinhua said.

The drought has caused agricultural losses of some 2.2 billion yuan
(US$349 million), Yunnan's department of agriculture said.

Some 376,170 hectares of farmland in the 91 counties and 13 cities have
been affected, including 62,480 hectares of farmland which yielded no
crops, the department said.

The continuous drought since 2009 has also pushed up the price of
traditional Chinese medicine as Yunnan is a major production area for
TCM drugs.

Prices have been rising at around 30 percent a year on more than 80
percent of drugs from the province as production declines, officials said.

The lack of rainfall since last autumn has reduced the water level of
many rivers. Levels are 80 percent lower compared to previous years in
some major rivers in China's southeast, said the Office of State Flood
Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.

It estimates that more than 3 million people are facing a shortage of
drinking water because of drought that is also affecting southwest
China's Sichuan Province and the northern Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

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