The World Bank yesterday announced two loans for the mainland, totalling US$600 million, in initiatives to target the most critical areas of the economy. The first project, aimed at boosting Beijing's ability to feed its population, and keeping pace with expected fast growth in grain consumption over the next 20 years, is to construct and improve irrigation and farmland in five provinces. About $300 million is to be provided by the World Bank's main lending arm, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, to promote food security, irrigation reform and environmental protection in Hebei, Henan, Shandong, Jiangsu and Anhui in the Huang-Huai-Hai plain. The project will construct and rehabilitate farmland irrigation facilities, improve existing soil and land quality, establish shelter-forest systems for farmland and expand rural road and electricity networks. It will also introduce improved agricultural technology, procure farm production materials and support institutional development. The mainland consumes 480 million tonnes of grain a year, the World Bank said. This is expected to grow 46 per cent to 700 million tonnes by 2020. This would be a huge expansion for a country with 22 per cent of the world's population but only 7 per cent of the arable land. The $849.3 million project will be part-funded with $300 million from Beijing and $249.3 million from farmer's contributions. The $300 million World Bank loan portion will be extended on single-currency London interbank offered rate terms, maturing in 20 years, with a grace period of five years and a 0.75 per cent commitment fee. The second project to which the World Bank intends to lend $300 million is aimed at alleviating power shortages in Hunan and providing reliable and environmentally sound power supply. The $747.2 million project will develop two thermal units, reinforce the transmission infrastructure and phase out smaller, inefficient and pollution-generating power stations. It also seeks to separate transmission services from generation and distribution to encourage greater investment. In addition to the World Bank's $300 million loan for the project - lent on the same terms as the irrigation project - $149.7 million will come from Hunan Electric Power and $297.5 million from the Construction Bank of China and the State Development Bank.