SEOUL, June 23 (Yonhap) -- The government said Saturday it is pouring manpower, emergency equipment and allocating relief funds into countering the worst drought the country has faced in decades.
The Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said 1,413 workers and 810 pieces of equipment, such as water pumps have been dispatched to help residents and farms in the worst hit areas of the country.
It said 45.6 billion won (US$39.3 million) in relief funds have been sent to Gyeonggi, South Chungcheong and South Jeolla provinces to cope with the damage and help reduce the impact of water shortages.
The ministry claimed that emergency efforts have helped push forward relief measures on 60,000 hectares of land in drought areas so far.
It said of 3,800 hectares of farmland that have been seriously affected by water shortfalls as of Friday, 2,600 hectares have received emergency help, with measures to be taken to deal with the remaining areas over the weekend.
Seoul, which set up its first inter-governmental drought action committee in 11 years, said from May onwards the country received just 66 millimeters of rain, which is just 38 percent of the average for the previous year.
This has led to a drop in water levels at the country's reservoirs. The average water levels have fallen to 45 percent of capacity down from the usual 55 percent for this time of the year.
Such developments have raised concerns of bad farm product output that can exert negative influence on consumer prices.
Government officials said it plans to offer more support to areas that are struggling with drought so people can tap into underground aquifers and dredge up river beds and reservoirs so they can hold more water.