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Page added on May 23, 2010

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Drought leaves 8 million people short of food

Enviroment

The seeds of rice, tobacco and corn that she planted this spring have failed to germinate because of the drought, she said.

In the past, she earned 5,000 yuan each year by selling corn, tobacco and tea. This would be enough to buy rice to feed the family until September.

“But the crops have failed, and more than 200 yuan worth of seeds and fertilizer have been wasted, too, due to the drought. Now I don’t have the money to buy enough rice,” Chen said, as she choked back sobs.

As water for irrigation mainly comes from rainfall, the shortage of rain has greatly affected planting.

The drought also has affected the family’s main income crops – tobacco and corn – which were planted in May.

Even after the local government was given 200 tons of food to aid families, the grain shortfall caused by the drought remains at 2,200 tons, a local government official said.

If the drought continues, the villagers will face a serious food shortage, said the official, who declined to be identified.

Moreover, the price of rice in the county has increased from 3 yuan per kg in February to 5 yuan per kg now because of the drought.

The drought also has taken a toll on the forests in Nanjian. Some 70 percent of its pine trees, many of which are 20-plus years old, have died.

As mountainous areas account for 99.3 percent of Nanjian territory, transporting donated water to families has been costly.

The cost of transporting 19 liters of water to farmers in drought-hit areas is starting to be costlier than the water itself.

The neighboring Chuxiong Yi autonomous prefecture is also facing the same problems.

So far, the number of farmers facing a food shortage in the prefecture has reached 580,000. That figure is estimated to rise to 700,000 in July.

China Daily



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