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China farmers to get $15 bn subsidies amid drought

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Jan 21, 2011
China says it had earmarked about $15 billion in subsidies for millions of farmers who have been hit by a severe drought that has driven prices as the government tries to battle inflation.

The dry spell in the north and south has affected about four million hectares (9.9 million acres), official figures show, and has been blamed for destroying crops.

Farmers will receive 98.6 billion yuan, up 14 percent from a year earlier, to boost their incomes and reduce the cost of diesel, fertiliser and pesticides, the finance ministry said on its website late Thursday.

Local authorities have been ordered to distribute the money before farmers start planting their crops in the spring, it said.

Beijing has been trying to rein in soaring food prices, which have driven up inflation and strained household budgets.

The consumer price index, the main gauge of inflation, slowed in December from the previous month but analysts expect it to pick up again this month due to increased consumer spending for the Lunar New Year and cold temperatures.

The index rose 4.6 percent on year in December, down from a two-year high 5.1 percent in November, but it was up 3.3 percent over the year, higher than Beijing's target.

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