China Uses Military Planes as Rainmakers for Drought-Hit Areas

Other News Materials 8 February 2009 11:45 (UTC +04:00)

China, the world's biggest grain producer, is using its air force to try to make rain for rural areas struck by the nation's worst drought in five decades, Bloomberg reported.

Two planes were dispatched from Guangzhou to the provinces of Anhui and Henan to battle the drought, the official Xinhua News Agency said today. Yesterday, parts of Gansu, Ningxia, Shaanxi, Shanxi and Hubei provinces received as much as 5.5 millimeters (0.2 inches) of rain after artillery shells and rockets were fired into clouds to disperse chemicals, the China Meteorological Administration said today.

China has raised its drought-emergency alert to the highest level for the first time to stave off the threat to crops, livestock and rural incomes. President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao have ordered "all-out efforts" to fight the dry spell.

The Ministry of Finance allocated 86.7 billion yuan ($12.7 billion) from its reserves as relief funds for drought-stricken regions on Feb. 6.

China will also use water from the Yangtze and Yellow rivers, the nation's two longest, to irrigate farmland in the parched regions, the Xinhua News Agency said today, citing the Ministry of Water Resources.

About half of 160 million mu (10.6 million hectares) of winter wheat hurt by the drought had been irrigated as of Feb. 6, according to a statement on the government Web site yesterday.

China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. and PetroChina Co., the nation's two biggest oil companies, were urged by the government to boost supplies to rural areas to help counter the drought, the National Development and Reform Commission, the country's top economic planner, said yesterday.

Parts of Shaanxi, Shanxi, Hebei, Shandong, Henan, Hubei and Anhui provinces may get rainfall of as much as 8 millimeters today, which would help relieve the drought "to some extent," the Meteorological Administration said today on its Web site.