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China spends $1 billion to tackle drought

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Impact of China drought on world
  • NEW: The government invests $1 billion to combat the drought
  • Some 2.57 million people suffering from drinking water shortages
  • China's capital goes 108 days without rain or snow, a 60-year record
  • Authorities seed clouds to try to end the drought

Beijing (CNN) -- China's government will invest $1 billion to combat a three month drought crippling the country's north.

The worst drought in six decades threatens to ruin China's winter harvest, the world's largest producer of wheat.

To combat it, China's government plans to spend around 6.7 billion yuan ($1.02 billion) to divert water to affected areas and irrigation facilities according to the state news agency, Xinhua.

Some 2.57 million people and 2.79 million livestock are suffering from drinking water shortages, Xinhua said.

The main affected provinces include Shandong, Jiangsu, Henan, Hebei and Shanxi, which together account for about 60% of the wheat planted this winter.

The United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) issued an alert Tuesday, warning of severe wheat shortages, saying "the ongoing drought is potentially a serious problem."

According to the FAO the drought is now affecting an area of around 5.16 million hectares, representing two-thirds of China's wheat production.

Meanwhile the country's capital Beijing got it first snowfall in more than three months overnight on Wednesday. But the precipitation is unlikely to end the area's drought, reported Xinhua.

The precipitation followed cloud seeding by the municipal artificial weather intervention office, the agency said.