Rainfall brings relief to drought-hit Chinese province

March 29th, 2010 - 1:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, March 29 (IANS) Cloud seeding brought rainfall over the weekend in drought hit Yunnan province in southwest China, a media report said Monday.
Meteorologists, however, said the light to moderate rainfall will have limited effect on the worst drought situation affecting the region in a century.

Rainfall occurred in 11 cities and prefectures, including Kunming, capital of Yunnan province, on Saturday and Sunday, China Daily reported.

More than 3,200 cannons and rockets loaded with cloud seeding chemicals were fired into the sky at 317 sites in 77 counties of 13 cities and prefectures, the China Meteorological Administration (CMA) said.

“It was the first rain I have seen since last October, but it only lasted for about three hours from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. this morning (Sunday),” Bu Lupiao, a farmer of Bapiao village in Jinghong county, said.

“The rain may do some good for the growth of tea seeds, which should have sprouted two weeks ago,” he said. The lingering drought has cut the production of his 4.7 hectares of tea and rubber plantation by 60 percent.

In Chuxiong Yi autonomous prefecture, the 112 cloud-seeding cannons induced little rainfall Saturday, frustrating local residents.

“As the rain has not produced a flow of surface and ground water, it will not increase the water supply in either wells or reservoirs and the drinking water shortage will continue in the province,” Ma said.

The rainfall may, at least, help to reduce the risks of fire posed by the dry conditions in the forests and to increase the soil moisture on farms, he said.

The drought has ravaged southwestern China since last autumn, affecting 61.3 million residents and five million hectares of crops in Guizhou, Yunnan, Sichuan, Chongqing and Guangxi, the civil affairs ministry said.

The drought has also caused direct economic losses of 23.7 billion yuan ($3.5 billion).

In Yunnan province, which has been the hardest hit by the drought, direct agricultural economic losses are estimated at 17 billion yuan and 8.2 million residents have been left short of food.

The dry weather has affected over 80 percent of all planting areas in Yunnan, a major region for the production of fresh flowers, rapeseed, sugarcane, tobacco and tea.

The latest weather forecast from the CMA said the drought-hit region may expect more rain over the next 10 days, bringing up to 30 mm of precipitation to Yunnan and Guizhou provinces.

Ma said more cloud seeding is planned to take place in the province this week.

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