URUMQI - China's central government plans to spend 1.875 billion yuan ($298 million) on improving irrigation systems in the southern areas of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region this year.
The fund will be used to upgrade irrigation facilities and promote water-saving technology, in order to boost farm output in southern Xinjiang, home to the majority of the region's poor population, according to the regional reform and development commission.
Southern Xinjiang is a major production base for cotton and fruit. However, a lack of water and outdated irrigation systems have long hampered agricultural development in the region.
Four prefectures in southern Xinjiang -- Aksu, Kashgar, Hotan, and Kizilsu -- are among the poorest areas in China. They had more than 1.6 million people living under the poverty line by the end of 2017.
As China aims to eliminate poverty by 2020, Xinjiang is carrying out a three-year poverty-relief plan. Under the plan, 409,000 residents and 94,000 households will be lifted out of poverty this year.