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Drought-resistant seeds to help growers

[ 2009-02-10 13:43]     字号 [] [] []  
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The Ministry of Science and Technology has listed 20 types of drought-resistant wheat seeds to help farmers combat the worst dry spell in large parts of the country since 1951.

Though the seeds have been available in local markets, many farmers still do not know about them, Wang Xueqin, chief of the ministry's agriculture department, told China Daily yesterday.

That is why the ministry has decided not only to promote the seeds, but to also provide technological help to farmers who buy them, he said.

Farmers who have lost wheat seedlings to the dry spell can sow the drought-resistant seeds and "reduce their losses", Wang said. The seedlings cost largely the same as the common varieties

"The government will provide farmers with 50 kinds of new seed technologies and relative services, too, as part of the free drought relief work," Minister of Science and Technology Wan Gang told a meeting yesterday.

But despite the efforts it would be difficult for the country to reach last year's wheat output level of 109 million tons, the highest since 2003.

The worst drought to hit the country in more than half a century has hurt the livelihood of people in eight provinces - Hebei, Shanxi, Anhui, Jiangsu, Henan, Shandong, Shaanxi and Gansu. As of Friday, it had damaged or destroyed crops on about 158 million mu (10 million hectares).

"The crops in drought-hit regions may not survive the unexpected drops in temperature," said Wang Zhimin, a professor of China Agricultural University.

Many farmers have been using wheat seeds with a short growth period because of the warm winters in recent years, he said. But usually such seeds are not cold-resistant.

In spring, temperatures can drop drastically at nights, something such seeds cannot sustain because they don't have the special features of the stronger drought-resistant varieties, Wang Zhimin said.

Though local governments have raised their subsidy levels for farmers to help them buy more irrigation and water-saving equipment, farmers could still face heavy losses, he said. For example, a farmer in Hubei has to pay a 30 yuan water and electricity fee for every mu of land he/she irrigates, he said.

But it's too early to say if the drought will influence the price of wheat this year because it also depends on the total output of the grain, he said.

(英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Drought-resistant seeds to help growers

About the broadcaster:

Drought-resistant seeds to help growers

Nancy Matos is a foreign expert at China Daily Website. Born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, Nancy is a graduate of the Broadcast Journalism and Media program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. Her journalism career in broadcast and print has taken her around the world from New York to Portugal and now Beijing. Nancy is happy to make the move to China and join the China Daily team.