China earmarks $12 bn more for drought relief

February 7th, 2009 - 3:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Feb 7 (Xinhua) China has earmarked 86.7 billion yuan (about $12.69 billion) more in aid for the drought-hit areas in the western part of the country, officials said. The finance ministry said Friday of the total amount, 71.6 billion yuan will be given to farmers for buying relief materials and 15.1 billion yuan will go to grain producers to supplement incomes.

On Thursday, the central government announced that it would earmark 300 million yuan for the local governments, in addition to the 100 million yuan previously allocated.

The finance ministry has ordered the local governments to distribute the funds to farmers as soon as possible. The country’s wheat producing provinces have been hit by recurrent droughts, it said.

The Chinese government reiterated that the development of agriculture and rural areas was of special significance in 2009.

China has been hit by a severe drought in nearly a dozen provinces such as Henan, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Gansu, Hubei, Hunan, Sichuan, and Yunan, among others, since Feb 2.

Around 4.37 million people and 2.1 million livestock are affected in the drought, according to a government data.

More than 153,300 hectares of wheat seedlings in Henan, Anhui and Shandong provinces had perished, it said.

China Thursday declared a state of emergency due the drought that began in November last year.

President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao have ordered all-out efforts to tackle the severe drought in the country’s vast wheat-growing areas to ensure a good summer harvest.

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