Hail, drought devastate Korean regions

Hail, drought devastate Korean regions

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Hail and drought have devastated middle and southern regions of Korea, forcing local governments to take emergency action to help affected farmers.

On June 1, heavy rain and hail lashed the cities of Yeongju, Bonghwa, Uiseong and Yeongyang in North Gyeongsang Province. Three centimeter-diameter hailstones smashed fruit and vegetable farms and rice paddies. Apple farms suffered the biggest blow, with 40 percent of the province’s 6,600 hectares of trees damaged.

At one farm in Yeongju, all its 550 trees were hit — branches were broken, apples fell off and those ready for shipping were bruised and cracked.

In Yeongju, hail ravaged a farm that grows zucchini, eggplant and pumpkins under vinyl covers.

A watermelon farmer in Bonghwa gave up this year’s produce after hail destroyed steel structures supporting his storage area. Another farmer in the city managed to acquire seedlings for his damaged hot pepper field. But he gave up on his apple orchard where hail ruined the fruit.

At the opposite end of the scale, drought in Gyeonggi, South Chungcheong and South Jeolla provinces affected 5,450 hectares as of June 3.

With only half last year’s average of 313 millimeters of rain, farmers are struggling to make a success of crops.

Meanwhile, the nation’s reservoirs are at 54 percent capacity, compared with the average of 68 percent.

Pyeongtaek, Anseong, Seosan and Hongseong have especially been hit with well-below average storage levels.

The Ministry of Public Safety and Security said Monday it will provide 12.4 billion won ($11 million) to 10 cities and provinces for drought relief. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has already given over 16 billon won to five drought-hit provinces.

Ko Dong-hwan / http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/nation/2017/06/119_230695.html

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