China acts to provide water in north

Rain has fallen in drought-stricken north-central China after the government brought in rain-making scientists, and officials say they will divert two major rivers to help farmers, Reuters reported, quoting state media. Over the weekend, premier Wen Jiabao visited drought-stricken areas, where a state of emergency was declared last week.


Wen called relief work "top priority", and a critical part of efforts to revive the Chinese economy amid the global financial crisis. He told local governments to speed up water-management projects, guarantee supplies of fertiliser and pesticide, and subsidise purchases of farm machinery for those in greatest need.


Experts say government moves to finance last-minute irrigation could help to revive crops that might otherwise have been left to die by farmers struggling with low prices and oversupply.


Weather officials also have been trying to increase the amount of water on the ground, deploying cloud-seeding rockets across key wheat-growing areas. Rainfall of 0.5 to 5 millimetres was reported later, the Xinhua news agency reported, and clouds were gathering in other areas.


Xinhua also quoted a water-resources official as saying that water from the Yangtze, China’s longest river, will be diverted north to meet demand as temperatures climb. Water supply on the Yellow River also will be boosted, as upriver dams are opened for the worst-affected provinces.


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