CHINA / National

Bottom line set for grain production
By Zhao Huanxin (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-08-04 06:05

The amount of land dedicated to grain production is expected to continue shrinking in the years ahead but it will still have to produce a minimum of 500 million tons needed to feed China in 2010.

The estimate of China's future grain need was revealed by the Ministry of Agriculture yesterday, as it unveiled the National Agricultural and Rural Economic Development Programme for the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10).

"We estimate that the country will need at least 500 million tons of grain in 2010," said Yang Jian, director of the ministry's Development Planning Department and one of the programme's chief designers.

"We must reserve at least 103.33 million hectares for that output," he told China Daily.

Although it should be possible to produce 500 million tons of grain, Yang warned that urbanization, plus efforts to set land aside for forest and grassland reserves, would mean the amount of arable land would irreversibly shrink in the coming years.

The ministry predicts that during the 11th Five-Year Plan period, the total grain-producing land area will decrease by 0.18 per cent annually. Arable land has already shrunk by 8 million hectares between 1999 and 2005, the Ministry of Land and Resources said in March.

China used 104.28 million hectares of arable land to produce 484 million tons of grain last year, 14.55 million tons more than the previous year, according to Ministry of Agriculture statistics.

In its development programme, the ministry reiterated the nation's policy of relying on domestic efforts to guarantee food security, stressing there must be a "steady growth" in the production of grain and other major farm produce.

Global grain transactions stand around 200 million tons a year, less than half of China's annual demands, according to Yang.

"China is a responsible country. If we import too much grain, there will be a drastic hike in grain prices in the world market, which will threaten the interests of other importers," he said.

To maintain domestic grain supply, the ministry's 11th Five-Year Plan prescribes that arable land must be strictly protected, especially in major grain producing counties and State farms, where national high-quality grain production projects, as well as "fine seed," "plant protection" and "fertile soil" projects will be implemented.

Farming technology must also be extended to increase the per-unit yield, and high-yielding "super rice" strains should be planted in more areas.

The programme also specifies requirements for animal and plant disease and epidemic control, and for stepping up standardization in agricultural production to improve food quality and safety.

Other highlights of the agricultural programme

Dairy production is expected to rise by 7.95 per cent per year, reaching 42 million tons in 2010, compared with 28.65 million tons last year.

Farmers' per capita income will grow by at least 5 per cent a year to reach 4,150 yuan (US$519) in 2010.

At least 100 million farmers will have received technical training by 2010.

The number of farmers migrating for work in cities and towns is expected to increase by 5 million each year.

Pollution discharged from agricultural production will be halved by 2010, with rural sewage "effectively treated," and the environmental and hygiene conditions in the countryside "markedly improved."

(China Daily 08/04/2006 page1)

(China Daily 08/04/2006 page1)


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