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July 7, 2010

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Melon farmer in rain despair

XU Yongming, a farmer in Qingpu District, is wondering how to make up his losses after two-thirds of his watermelons were destroyed in the strong wind and thunderstorms which hit the city on Sunday night.

Xu, a Shandong Province native who came to Shanghai five years ago to grow watermelons, is not the only victim. Another eight families in Xianfeng Village in Qingpu are in a similar situation.

"In less than two minutes, 40 of my 60 watermelon shelters were destroyed," Xu said.

His watermelons got soaked in the rain and soon rotted.

Xu estimated that about 50 acres of watermelons in his village had suffered in the storms.

Xu had only got his first batch of fruit to market earlier the same day. Now he has no more produce to sell after six months of work.

The farmer said a similar situation had only happened once before when typhoon Matsa hit the city in 2005. His cousin was one of the victims then, but the government had offered subsidies. Xu was hoping the government could lend a hand this time too.

But the Qingpu District government said that they hadn't heard about the farmers' losses and they had no plan so far to offer subsidies.

Gao Qun, an official with the government, said they encouraged farmers to insure themselves against such difficulties. Xu and the other eight farmers hit by the storm had no insurance.

The government would also offer guidance on how to set up shelters and how to make sure that drainage ditches were working effectively.


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