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Agriculture Sector Warned Against Natural Disasters

Chinese vice premier Hui Liangyu on Thursday told local agricultural officials to be prepared for natural disasters this year, while repeating the familiar call to increase grain production and farmers' income.

Addressing an annual government workshop on spring farming, Hui Liangyu said the country's agriculture could face more adverse conditions this year, but local officials must "try all possible means" to ensure the stable growth of grain products.

"Spring farming is a key issue that determines whether agricultural development goals can be reached," Hui said during the conference which was held in Hebi City, in central grain production base of Henan.

"But we should be clear that climate change is becoming unpredictable and natural disasters are more likely to happen this year," Hui warned agricultural officials.

Despite serious natural disasters, China saw a rich grain harvest last year, with a total output of 497.45 billion kg, 13.44 billion kg more than the previous year.

The per capita net income of 900 million rural residents increased 7.4 percent to 3,587 yuan last year.

"Farmers should be encouraged to expand the sowing area and use water-saving irrigation methods when they plow the fields," Hui said.

He also called for construction of more anti-drought facilities to offset the potential damages of a natural disaster.

(Xinhua News Agency March 23, 2007)

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