In Pictures: A Lasting Dry Spell

A villager looks over his dry field.
Located at the terminus of the irrigation system in Shan county, Henan province, Sunjia village hadn't gotten a drop of rain the whole winter.

The drought was so severe that the local government incited two rounds of modest artificial rainfalls on February 8 and 9.

As the fields moistened, Sun Shuyi, a farmer in the village, was busy shoveling the top layer of wet soil and burying them deeper into the ground to prevent it from evaporating.

That was all he could do to keep the much-needed water in his wheat field before another round of rain came.

Judging from previous experience, Sun projected that the wheat output this year would plunge over 50% compared to last year. If rain failed to come soon, the sprouting wheat would wither and eventually die.

Areas west of Sunjia village also faced similar drought. Nearly 20% of the wheat fields in Henan - a province that contributes one-fourth of the country's wheat output every year - were located in remote mountainous areas, the forgotten corners of the provincial irrigation facilities.

In San Menxia city where Shan county is, there are 87 reservoirs, but 18 of them had run dry, while another 20 had so little storage that they were essentially non-functional.

The remaining reservoirs could hardly support the agricultural needs for 160,000 hectares of fields, toiled by 1.4 million farmers.

Sun Jiayi shovels the wet soil deeper into the ground.

The wheat sprouts have withered.

The dry riverbed near Sunjia village has become a playground for locals.

A family sells their apple stock to get through the drought.

Some grain businessmen have begun stocking up on grains.

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