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Agricultrual Development in Middle and West China and Sustainable Agricultural Development

1999-10-20author:Wan Baoruisource:

  Mr.Chairman,distinguished delegates:

  I am delighted to participate in the third meeting of the 2nd China Council for International Co-operation on Environment and Development. Here I would like to address you on the subject of Agricultural Development in Middle and West China & Sustainable Agricultural Development.

  I. Agricultural Development in Middle and West China

  With a large population, vast land and rich resources, the middle and west China holds an important position in agricultural and rural economic development in China. The population in this region accounts for 60% of the total in China, land area 86% of the total and cultivated land 58%. In 1998, the total cereal yield constituted 51% of the total production in China, cotton 72%, oil crops 62%, sugar crops 34%, and meat 58%.

  But due to various reasons such as natural conditions, geographical locations and socialeconomic development levels, rural economy in the middle and west China develops relatively slowly. There is a big disparity between this region and the east part of China in terms of the total size of rural economy, rural industrial structure, farmers' income and consumption, etc. At present, the uncultivated land suitable for agricultural production in China totals 142 million mu, medium-low yield farmland about 900 million mu, 86% and 74% of which are in the middle and west China respectively. This region holds two thirds of the land area, farmland, and manpower in China, as well as most of the underground mineral resources and manpower in China, as well as most of the underground mineral resources and grassland resources. The large agricultural exploitation potential determines the bright future of the agricultural and rural economic development in this region.

  The Chinese Government has already stated that the national economic development strategy should gradually shift to the middle and west part. We will take this opportunity to speed up the agricultural exploitation and rural economic development in the middle and west part. It is envisaged that, during the period of Tenth Five-Year Plan, the position of agriculture as the foundation of the economy will be further strengthened in the middle and west China and this region will continue to undertake the three tasks, namely the important commodity production base of farm produce, the shield for protecting ecological environment, and the main battleground for protecting ecological environment, and the main battleground for poverty alleviation. The basic and general idea is to rely on resource advantage and sci-technological progress, actively promote a diversified economy and the off-farm business, optimize the industrial structure, strengthen the protection of ecological environment, take the road of sustainable development with intensionally expanded reproduction as the main means, and comprehensively raise the efficiency of rural economy, society and ecosystem. Policies and measures to be adopted are as follows:

  1.Improving the agricultural production conditions. The Government will further increase the scale and effort of input in the middle and west part, especially the investment in the programs such as dryland farming & water-saving agriculture, slope farmland improvement, demonstration projects in the pastoral area, and integrated agricultural development. Meanwhile the infrastructure construction in this region, such as energy, transportation and communication, will be sped up to pave the way for further development of the local economy.

  2.Making efforts to attract capital, technology, and qualified personnel. On one hand, the central government will adopt preferential policies in favor of the middle and west part to promote the mutual aid between the east part and the middle and west part of China through capital, technology, and human resources. On the other hand, favorable policies are to be formulated in the middle and west part to introduce and utilize capital, technology, and personnel from home and abroad so as to speed up the process of opening-up. 

  3. Adjusting the economic development strategy. Through the demonstration project of co-operation between township enterprises in east and west China, the horizontal linkage between the middle and west part and the east part will be strengthened. The development of the farm and sideline product processing industry in the middle part will be sped up, production chains will be extended, thus promoting the transformation of major farm produce like grains, and increasing the added value. The high yield, high quality, and high efficiency agriculture in the west part will be boosted. The development priority will be given to such sub-sectors as mining, minerals processing, and processing of farm crops and animal products to widen the development road for the local economy and realize the industrial restructuring as well as to raise the farmers' income.

  4. Improving the preservation of ecological environment. The middle and west part is an area with a very fragile ecological environment, and also the main area that causes the soil erosion and effects ecological environment in the Yangtze River basin and the Yellow River basin in China. We shall adjust the agricultural development strategy in this area, stopping activities of reclaiming the wasteland and ruining forests and grassland, closing the mountain pass to facilitate afforestation, converting some land for forestry, pasture and lakes, and improving the slope farmland in an integrated way. We shall actively develop agriculture, animal husbandry and aquaculture that can ensure harvest despite flood, to increase economic and ecological benefits. The middle and west part is the priori

  ty area in the national program launched this year to build key ecological envir

  onment counties.

  Ⅱ. Sustainable agricultural development in China

  The Chinese Government attaches much importance to the sustainable agricultural development. In "China's Agenda 21", it is clearly stated that sustainable development in agriculture and rural economy is the fundamental guarantee, key element, and prior domain for China's sustainable development. A series of policies and measures have been adopted to promote the sustainable agricultural development. For example, some laws are issued, such as Law on Agriculture of the People's Republic of China, Land Administration Law,Law of the People's Republic of China on the Conservation of Water and Soil and Basic Farmland Protection Regulations. Permits have to be obtained for the use of cultivated land and summer fishing ban is practiced. Supervision of enforcement of the agricultural environmental protection laws is strengthened to ensure the implementation of the sustainable agricultural development strategy fundamentally. Agriculture Action Plan for China's Agenda 21 is formulated, setting the overall aims, tasks, and measures of the sustainable agricultural development. Agricultural ecological environment is improving through such measures as harnessing big rivers and watershed improvement, preservation of natural forest and integrated development in agriculture. Thus soil erosion in an area of 177 thousand square kilometers has been brought under control. Great efforts are made to carry out ecological agriculture experiments to explore the effective ways for sustainable agricultural development. Now there are 50 ecological agriculture experiment sites at the national level, 100 counties selected for the same experiment by provinces, and over 2000 experiment townships and villages at a lower level, covering 7% of the total cultivated land in China. And 7 of these ecological agriculture experiment sites have been awarded as among 500 best by UNEP. Environmental pollution in the countryside is strictly controlled. Some enterprises that pollute very heavily, such as small coal mining, papermaking, leather making, and chemicalindustry enterprises, are closed down and the operations of some others are suspended. This has greatly reduced the environmental pollution in the rural area.

  However, we have to realize with a sober mind that we have large and fast growing population, which brings great pressure over the natural resources and the entire ecological environment, and that sustainable agricultural development is much affected by the decline in the area and quality of farmland, the increase in the area of desertic land, and the serious pollution on the ecological environment. Targeting at the existing problems, the Chinese Government will adopt effective measures in the next fiveyear plan to intensify efforts on the implementation of the sustainable agricultural development strategy and to promote the development.

  1.Enhancing the publicity and education program and increasing the people's awareness of the importance of the sustainable development. We will use all forms of publicity and education and accelerate the implementation of Agriculture Action Plan for China's Agenda 21 so that the concept of sustainable agricultural development will be accepted by farmers, who will protect environment and reduce the pollution and damage on the ecological environment in their production and project implementation.

  2.Intensifying the research on and the extension of sustainable agricultural development technology and increasing the capability for sustainable development. Research will be intensified in such areas as agrobiologic technology, plant and animal breeding, high efficiency utilization of agricultural resources, modern technology for intensified crop plant growing and animal raising, agricultural biological control of diseases and pests, and the ecological environmental protection. Great efforts will be made to extend and utilize the technologies related to high quality & high yield variety, high efficiency animal farming and aquaculture, dryland water-saving agriculture, standardized cultivation, integrated control over crop diseases and pests, rural energy-saving technology, etc. New technologies that protect resources and environment will be matched with necessary supporting measures to form a complete system, thus gradually establishing the resource-saving and protecting agro-tech system. Scientific and technological progress will be relied on to promote the sustainable agricultural development.

  3. Further strengthening the construction of ecological agriculture and protecting agricultural resources and ecological environment. The priority shall be given to intensifying improvement efforts in the areas with a fragile ecological environment, such as the upper reaches of the Yellow River and Yangtze River the windysandy area in the Northeast, North China and Northwest, and the grassland. Projects concerning ecological agriculture, rural energy, dryland farming and sustainable utilization of resources, will be used as breakthrough points. Agriculture, forestry, and water projects will be combined in the watershed improvement program. Water and soil will be conserved and agricultural ecological environment will be improved. Integrated exploitation in agriculture will be sped up, high standard farmlands that have a stable yield despite of drought and flood will be built up, and strict control will be brought over forest resources. Felling natural forests will be stopped. The deterioration, desertification, and alkalization problems of the grassland will be addressed in an integrated way. Pollution that comes from industry, daily life, and the improper use of chemical fertilizer, pesticide and plastic mulch will be controlled. Measures of summer fishing ban will be strictly followed to protect fishery resources.

  4. Reinforcing the legal system and ensuring the sustainable agricultural development. The implementation of Basic Farmland Protection Regulations will be strengthened, and about 80% of the basic farmland shall be regarded as permanently protected farmland. Regulations on the Integrated Administration of National Agricultural Resources will be formulated to meet the urgent need of the sustainable agricultural development.

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