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Recovery Funds Allocated for Farms

China's ministries of finance and water resources on Friday announced the allocation of 315 million yuan (US$44 million) to help spring cultivation in areas affected by the severe winter weather and drought.

Northern regions which have suffered from drought since the previous winter will receive 200 million yuan to improve farm irrigation.

The remaining 150 million yuan will be used for reconditioning damaged water conservancy facilities in southern China, a Finance Ministry statement said.

Names of the provinces, municipalities or autonomous regions where these funds would go were unavailable.

In late February, the ministries of finance and agriculture earmarked 75.6 billion yuan in agricultural subsidies nationwide in two batches.

China's worst spell of winter weather in five decades highlighted safety risks with the country's tens of thousands of reservoirs and affected more than 15 million hectares of cropland, making food security an even bigger concern for the government.

Vice Premier Hui Liangyu last month demanded local agricultural departments promptly implement the state's preferential policies for farmers, including supplying farmers and farm-related sectors with sufficient subsidies.

"Local governments should be well aware of the fact that agriculture is threatened by the aftermath of the severe winter weather over the past month and by uncertainty in climate changes," he said.

Du Ying, deputy minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, said last month that China would allocate 152.1 billion yuan in agriculture-related fixed assets investment from its central budget in 2008 to shore up farm development hit by surging inflationary pressure and the winter weather.

The Agriculture Ministry will send 10,000 technicians to assist farmers in snow-stricken provinces.

(Xinhua News Agency March 2, 2008)

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