Drought threatens China rice harvest

May 21, 2011 at 1:38 PM
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CHANGSHA, China, May 21 (UPI) -- China's drought is threatening rice crops in the central provinces of Hunan and Hubei, major sources of the food staple, officials say.

In Hunan province, the flow of four branches of the Yangtze River is about half normal this year, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported Saturday, citing government figures. More than 725,000 acres of crops are drying out and 820,000 people are short of drinking water.

Jianli, the largest rice-growing county in Hubei, has suffered a 60 percent drop in precipitation.

In Jiejiazhou village in Hunan, local official Jiang Weiqing said crops will be cut by more than half.

Nanxian county has had only 6.3 inches of rain since January, 40 percent of normal, said Yao Nianhua of the water resources bureau. "Five of the six rivers in the county have dried up."

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