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Government fortifying irrigation

Agricultural watering infrastructure bolstered to guarantee food security

By HOU LIQIANG | China Daily | Updated: 2024-06-07 09:17

In a concerted push to bolster food security, the Ministry of Water Resources has rolled out a series of measures to fortify the nation's agricultural irrigation infrastructure this year, with a series of major projects underway.

At a news conference on Thursday, Zhu Chengqing, vice-minister of water resources, underscored the importance of irrigation in the spring.

"Half of China's grain crops are sowed in the spring. Ensuring the irrigation needs for spring planting and overwintering crops is the fundamental support for stable production and supply of grain and other important agricultural products throughout the year," she said.

Zhu said the ministry has accelerated the restoration of water supply facilities damaged by serious flooding last year in the Haihe and Songhua river basins.

A total of 4 billion yuan ($552 million) from central government treasury bonds has been allocated to eight provincial-level regions in the two basins — including the provinces of Hebei, Shanxi and Jilin, and the municipalities of Beijing and Tianjin — to help them restore damaged rural water supply facilities and large and medium-sized irrigation areas, she said.

"The progress of all these works is smooth, effectively ensuring the safety of rural water supply and timely irrigation of crops," Zhu said.

Based on enhanced monitoring and forecasting of rainfall and drought conditions, she said the ministry also optimized its plans for water diversion to meet irrigation needs.

This year, a total of 52.8 billion cubic meters of water has been allocated for irrigation, covering almost 26.7 million hectares of farmland, Zhu said.

"This means that all farmland that needs irrigating is irrigated, which has provided solid support for a bumper grain harvest this summer," she said.

Zhu said renovation projects were carried out in 598 medium-sized and large irrigation areas last year. The efforts have not only brought more farmland under irrigation, but also upgraded irrigation facilities in many places, benefiting 2.3 million hectares of farmland.

This year, together with the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Water Resources has distributed funds from the central government's treasury bonds to support renovation projects in 1,197 irrigation areas, with 90 percent of them already started, she said.

Zhu said the country has also launched 44 major water resources management projects to further enhance its water supply capability.

According to the Ministry of Water Resources, China has built up over 7,300 large and medium-sized irrigation areas, as well as more than 22 million small irrigation facilities such as pumping stations, wells and ponds.

Over 70 million hectares of farmland across the country have irrigation facilities, accounting for 55 percent of the total but contributing about 77 percent of the country's grain and over 90 percent of its commercial crops.

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