BEIJING — Cheng Xulan, a grain farmer who manages over 67 hectares of rice in a county in Southwest China's Chongqing, breathed a sigh of relief after two water pumps were installed near her rice paddies.
The water pumps, provided by the local agricultural department, came as a rescue for the autumn grain in dire need of water following weeks of sweltering weather with daily maximum temperatures of 35 to 40 degrees Celsius.
"Thanks to the water pumps, I can expect a reasonable grain output this autumn," Cheng said.
Cheng's experience is not an isolated case. Chinese authorities are stepping up concerted efforts to reduce the impact of the heatwaves on the country's autumn grain production as several regions across China including Chongqing are suffering droughts due to lingering hot weather.
China has experienced an unusually hot July and the hot weather continued into August, with the national observatory issuing the national red alert for high temperatures, the most severe warning in China's four-tier color-coded weather warning system, for seven days in a row.
Forecasts indicated that heatwaves in some regions might last until late August, a crucial time for the growth of autumn grain, a significant contributor to the country's food security.
The sown area of China's autumn grain has increased this year providing a solid foundation for stable annual grain production, said Fu Linghui, an official with the National Bureau of Statistics.
Fu added that the current growth of corn, middle-season rice, soybean and other major autumn crops is basically the same as last year.
However, the heatwaves are posing challenges to the country's autumn grain production, which makes up about 75 percent of China's annual grain output. China aims to achieve a grain output of more than 650 billion kg this year.
Since July, drought has affected roughly 821,333 hectares of farmlands in Sichuan, Chongqing, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi and Anhui, according to the Ministry of Water Resources.
Authorities have promptly swung into action to mitigate the adverse effects of the hot weather on autumn grain output.
Last week, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs held a joint meeting with the country's statistics bureau and meteorological administration, and a decision was taken to improve cooperation on the statistical work on grain production and the early warning of bad weather.
The ministry has dispatched working groups and scientific and technological teams to major grain-producing and heatwave-affected provincial regions to provide guidance on drought prevention.
China has earmarked 200 million yuan (about $29.5 million) of disaster relief funds to help drought relief and 300 million yuan to support agricultural production in disaster-stricken regions.
To ease water shortage, the reservoirs in the upper and middle reaches of the Yangtze River will continue to replenish the water supply in the drought-affected section of China's longest river by discharging 1.48 billion cubic meters of water into the lower reaches.
"For areas hit hard by natural disasters, we should seek fewer grain output losses, and for other areas, we must strive to ensure a harvest as bumper as possible," said Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs Tang Renjian at a meeting last week.