“Capital” farmland is part of a solution to the Chinese food security problems

A discussion of the conclusions drawn by Dr. Tang Huaizhi, Dr. Xue Jian, Prof. Yun Wenju – this Issue

The Chinese Government fully recognizes the potential national problems associated with their current agricultural production and accepts the conclusions of their leading scientists as to the appropriate action to take.

Over  the next 20 years, urbanization of China’s population will continue, presenting similar problems to those of western societies. 

A current Chinese population growth rate of 1% per year signifies annually 18 million new urban residents with an ever greater demand for food. 

China finds it already necessary to import foodstuffs. To ensure food grain security it will be essential to upgrade farmland structure, quality and quantity. 

Nevertheless, China realizes that biodiversity is essential for the maintenance of a healthy land and a healthy population – a land that is able to produce food for the foreseeable future, without erosion, or a loss of fertility. 

It is recognized that not all lands are available for cultivation, and they should not be constantly used for that purpose. 

Of China’s existing 133.3Mha of cultivated land, only 120Mha are suitable for use at any one time, based on the study reports.

This is the conclusion drawn from the nation’s overall plan for cultivated land rehabilitation and maintenance and for ecological consolidation and restoration. 

Moreover, the advancement of China’s ecological civilization, implies that part of the cultivated land that is unsuitable for farming will be put to other uses.  

On the other hand, high quality cultivated land is concentrated in major areas of urban population and economic development. 

This puts high quality land at risk of urban and industrial usurpation.

The effect  these activities exert on the quality and quantity of cultivated land and on its spatial layout should be realized, as China will inevitably continue to industrialize cultivated land, especially those of high quality in the hinterland of cities. 

Twenty years of continuous urban development has decreased the total area of cultivated land so that in the eastern coastal and middle areas, there is near exhaustion of previously unused, but potentially cultivatable land. 

As requirements for ecological and environment protection rise, development of any unused land in the eastern and middle area is inclined to  trigger concern over soil deterioration and ecological problems. 

The current reserves of cropland are mainly in the arid and semi-arid, north and north-west areas, where crop and soil management is more difficult and output is lower.  

China’s Government understands and foresees the problems, of increasing the output of foodstuffs from a decreasing farmed area to meet the needs of a growing population. 

Those problems are recognized and reviewed, in addition to those caused by climate change. 

Agricultural research is being stepped up, together with the evolution of capital farmland designed in a way intended to incentivize rural people! 

Dr David Frape

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