Prayers and planes: Taiwan plan to battle drought

The worst drought to hit Taiwan in decades has become so desperate that it's using its air force to try and create artificial rain clouds, and praying to a sea goddess, to try and stop it.

Some 3,000 people gathered for this special three-hour ceremony, in which people made offerings with joss sticks to the sea goddess Mazu as leaders prayed for rain.

It’s the first time in 58 years an event like this has been held.

The drought in Taiwan is the worst in half a century. Typhoons carrying much-needed rain missed the island last year, worsening it.

Now water levels in four major reservoirs have fallen to around one-tenth of capacity.

On a boat ride with Reuters journalists, Chiang Ming-lang from the Water Resources Agency shared his concerns:

"Though some people say this is a short-term phenomenon, if we look at the history, then it's hard to deny this has become a long-term trend. We just can't allow this to continue."

Agriculture accounts for more than 70% of water consumption in Taiwan.

And 63-year-old rice farmer Tian Shou-hsi said his livelihood was suffering.

"If there's a continuous water shortage, if we continue to leave the land fallow, the tools we invested will all be wasted. Also for men my age, it's difficult to change jobs. It's funny, we used to say if we live as farmers, we'll have a stable life. However,

now even farmers can lose their jobs."

The country is tackling the issue both on the ground and in the skies.

Taiwan's air force has used C-130 transport aircraft to seed the clouds, while water resource officials fired chemicals into the air.

Officials hope the traditional "plum rain" season that starts from around late spring might also help.