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Zone project aims to help arable land yield more
By Wang Ying (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-10-22 06:17

SHIJIAZHUANG: China will take a firmer stance on arable land protection in the next five years to ensure that enough grain is planted to feed its 1.3 billion people.

More than 100 zones to protect farmland will be built in the next five years, covering 667,000 hectares, according to land and resources officials who addressed a working conference on farmland protection on Friday in Shijiazhuang, capital of North China's Hebei Province.

The zones will get more funds and technical support to upgrade farmland working efficiency and increase output, said Sun Wensheng, minister of land and resources.

"Each demonstrative zone will use state-of-the-art technical and management measures," Sun said.

Four to five such zones will be built in each of the 13 main grain-producing provinces and regions such as Hubei, Hebei, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Fujian. One to three zones will be built in each of the remaining provinces and regions.

The techniques that are expected to make the zones successful will then be applied to the rest of the country's farmland in the future.

In 2001, the ministry designated 108.9 million hectares, out of the country's 127 million hectares of arable land, as basic cultivated land.

Boasting "the best productivity," the basic cultivated land is not supposed to be used for purposes other than grain planting without special approval from the ministry, according to the country's Regulation on the Protection of Basic Cultivated Land, which was issued in 1994.

The country has 105.9 million hectares of basic cultivated land so far this year, or 2.6 million fewer hectares than last year.

"China needs at least 106.7 million hectares of cultivated land to feed its future theoretical peak population of 1.6 billion," said Pan Mingcai, director of the ministry's Department of Cultivated Land Protection.

The shrinkage of farmland will affect the economy and food security of the country, Pan said.

Statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture show that China harvested 450 billion kilograms of crops in 2003, compared with the average 500 billion-kilogram output in the past decade.

(China Daily 10/22/2005 page2)

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