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Taking Scientific Approach to Development to Promote Sustainable Agricultural Development


  Distinguished Vice-Premier Zeng Peiyan,

  Distinguished Council Members,

  Ladies and Gentlemen,

  It is of great significance that agriculture and sustainable agricultural development is adopted as the theme of the Third Session of the Third China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development. On behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture of China, I would like to extend our warm congratulations on the convening of the Session and like to share our views with you on taking the scientific approach to development so as to promote sustainable agricultural and rural development.

  Economic development is both the basis of satisfying people's consumption demand and promoting social progress, and an important objective that people go after. Since the outset of the 20th century, with the advances of science and technology and growth of productive forces, unprecedented large amount of material wealth has been created and development has been considerably accelerated. At the same time, however, the problems of population explosion, over-use of resources, environment pollution, disruption of ecological balance, etc. have become increasingly serious, badly threatening the future existence and development of humanity. These problems have caused widespread concerns and pondering of the governments and people of the world over development. It is a common challenge faced by human beings that we should make the scientific development concept well-established and pursued so that we can properly handle the relationship among economic growth, population and environment, and achieve sustainable development.

  The Chinese Government attaches great importance to sustainable development. After the UN Conference on Environment and Development held in 1992, the Chinese Government prepared and issued China's Agenda 21—White Paper for China's Population, Environment and Development in the 21st Century, which, as a guideline document for China's national economic and social development, marked the beginning of the process of sustainable development of China. In 1998, the Chinese Government worked out the National Ecological Environment Development Plan and in the same year, the Ministry of Agriculture of China worked out Agriculture Action Plan for China's Agenda 21, which has specified the goals, basic principles and key areas for the sustainable agricultural development strategy as well as policy measures to ensure the implementation of that strategy. In 2003, the Chinese Government issued Program of Action for Sustainable Development in China in the Early 21st Century, further clarifying the direction of sustainable agricultural development and improving the policies for sustainable agricultural development. To enhance the protection of agricultural resources and environment and to promote the sustainable agricultural development, the Chinese Government has taken a number of steps and has made considerable achievements.

  First, efforts have been intensified in earnest to protect cultivated land. Farmland is the fundamental production means in agriculture. The Chinese Government has taken it as its basic national policy to properly use every single inch of land and protect cultivated land in real earnest, and has designated protected areas of basic farmland. Since last year, efforts have been made to wind up the unwarranted requisition and excessive occupation of land. As a result, more than 2/3 of development zones have been either cancelled or consolidated and the area planned to be used for development zones has been cut down. Over 1,300 km2 has been returned to farmland. The tendency of excessive and unwarranted requisition and occupation of farmland has been checked, contributing to the increase of grain production and to the smooth and fast development of agriculture.

  Secondly, measures have been taken to protect wild agricultural plant resources. The Chinese Government has laid down the Regulations on Protecting Wild Plants. Efforts have been made to investigate the wild plants of agriculture and carry out ex situ conservation of such important wild plant resources of agriculture as wild rice, wild soybean and wild kindred plants of wheat. 30,000 accessions of wild kindred plants of major agricultural crops have been collected in a rescuing effort and 32 farms for conservation of genetic resources of perennial plants and 17 demonstration farms for in sute protection of wild agricultural plants have been established.

  Thirdly, the work of preventing and controlling exotic invasive organism was launched across the board. Based on hazard analysis of exotic invasive organism, the pilot program of eradicating poisonous plants and pests has involved 20 million farmers from over a hundred counties of ten provinces in removing crofton weed (Eupatorium adenophorum Spreng) and ragweed (Ambrosia spp.) from over 30 million mu of farmland, which has greatly improved people's awareness and capability in identifying, preventing and eliminating poisonous organisms.

  Fourthly, great efforts were made to extend dryland water-saving agriculture. Based on the principle of increasing input and reducing outflow, modern dryland water-saving agricultural technologies were adopted by over 300 demonstration bases of dryland farming established in dry, semi-dry and semi-humid areas, saving 30-50% of water for agricultural purposes and reducing over 50% of soil erosion, which facilitated higher agricultural productivity and a better ecological environment.

  Fifthly, we have tried hard to improve agricultural ecological environment. Besides implementing logging ban in natural forests and conversion of farmland back to forest and pasture, the state also set up several demonstration counties of ecological agriculture. This program has combined ecological agriculture development with the efforts in improving agricultural production conditions and non-contamination agricultural production, which has greatly improved agricultural productivity, farmer's income, and environmental protection in the rural areas. Commendable progress was also made in developing rural renewable energy. So far, 11 million farm households and over 1560 poultry and livestock farms have established and are using biogas pools in their daily life and production. The Eco-home Project—a project to enrich farmers, has launched its demonstration activities cross the country.

  Sixthly, pasture ecological conservation has been reinforced. Aiming at strengthening pasture conservation, the Chinese Government has supported and encouraged grass planting, aero sowing grass seeds, feed-lot fattening, and the extension of pasture contract responsibility system and paid use system of pasture. Pasture demonstration projects, with pasture development as the major activities, were implemented in 190 animal production or semi-animal production counties, playing an important role in improving vegetation coverage rate, preventing wind and fixing sand, maintaining water and soil, and protecting ecological environment.

  Seventhly, efforts were made to improve the monitoring and management system of agricultural environment. After years of efforts, China has initially built up the four-level network of agricultural environment monitoring with the Central Station of Environment Monitoring under the Ministry of Agriculture as the core, including 34 provincial stations and over 900 stations at the prefecture and county levels. Meanwhile, a national network of fisheries environment monitoring consisting of 33 provincial stations were established, covering countrywide sea areas and the seven major water systems. A series of monitoring activities on agricultural environment quality have been conducted.

  China's economic development is at a critical and strategic moment with opportunities. Agricultural development is facing with arduous tasks of increasing grain production and farmers' income. The following four aspects require our attention and efforts in order to realize sustainable agricultural development. Firstly, China has relatively insufficient agricultural resources, with only 1/4 of world average farmland per capita and 1/3 of world average water resources. Resources constraints have become increasingly outstanding. Secondly, Agricultural production conditions are yet to be fundamentally improved and capability of agricultural sector to resist natural disasters is rather weak. Thirdly, China suffers from weak ecological environment for agricultural production, with serious problem of soil erosion and land desertification. There is a tendency for degraded, sandy and saline land to expand. Fourthly, agricultural development has been endangered not only by the three wastes (waste gas, waste water and industrial residue) of industrial production but also by non-point pollution of agricultural production itself. Therefore, it is a heavy task to prevent and control environmental pollution in agricultural development.

  To address the challenges we face in developing sustainable agriculture, the Chinese Government will pay more emphasis to orchestrating the development of rural and urban areas by giving more inputs and support to farming in order to achieve a coordinated and sustained growth across the board. More attention will also be given to the balance between human beings and nature, to the environment and the eco-system in order to achieve the coordination among the economy, population, resources and environment, and arrive at the objective of sustainable agriculture.

  1. To conserve and properly use the natural resources

  The most stringent system of cultivated land protection will continue to be effective. In order to guarantee the amount of farmland at a stable level, the unlawful practices of fish-farming, tree-planting, mining, shoveling away the soil in the basic farmland or approval of or claiming the use for other purposes are prohibited. The farmland quality will be improved by expanding the "Soil Fertility Improvement" Program and dry-land farming coverage as well as by extending conservation farming technologies. The low- or medium-yield fields will be improved and micro-water conservation facilities developed in order to raise the production for the sake of food security in China. The farm-related wild flora and fauna resources will be protected and exotic organisms prevented, controlled and rooted out for the protection and sustainable use of biodiversity.

  2. To change the mode of economic growth

  The priority will be given to harmonizing the agricultural growth, resource consumption and environment protection. A mechanism must be developed to intentionally save the resources by producing low-resource-input and minimum-environment-damage products that have high technology contributions and economic returns. The grassland protection and promotion effort will be intensified through promoting returning the grazing-land to pastures, by recovering the proclaimed cultivated fields to grasses, and through grassland improvement by the effecting grazing ban, fallowing, rotation or shed feeding.

  3. To strengthen the protection of eco-environment for agriculture

  The eco-farming will be further extended in scope and strength. Its modalities and supportive technologies will be applied in regions with favorable conditions and stereotypes of sustainable agriculture be developed for areas with different situations. The Eco-home Project will be continued through promoting biogas consumption in order to better the production and living conditions in rural areas. The aim is to bring about, a benign cycle of energy and products circulation at home in the daily production and living activities. As a result, the house will be clean and cozy, the farming in the courtyard or orchard efficient and the production environment-friendly. The recycling-based economy will be promoted.

  4. To enhance the non-point pollution surveillance and control

  No time will be lost in controlling the non-point pollution. The producers will be given guidance as to how to use the appropriate amount of pesticides, fertilizers or other chemical inputs. The National Farming Environment Surveillance Network will be upgraded and the Monitoring and Early Warning Systems at the national, provincial, prefecture and county level be put to place. More efforts will go to monitoring the farming-related non-point pollution at the Middle and East lines of the South-North Water transfer (SNWT), along Huaihe, Haihe, Liaohe rivers as well as around Taihu, Dianchi and Chaohu lakes, and in the Three- gorge Reservoir Areas. The prevention and control technologies will be put on demonstration.

  5. To promote the international exchange and cooperation in sustainable agricultural development

  Agricultural sustainability in China is vital to that around the globe. The Chinese Government has had fruitful collaborations with many national and international organizations. We are ready to seek more opportunities for cooperation with the international community in such fields as the indicators and policies for development of sustainable farming, the influence of climate change on agricultural production, prevention and control of farming-related non-point pollution, farming environment monitoring and early-warning system, the use of crop residues, development and use of renewable resources in rural areas, and capacity building in sustainable agriculture. We are confident that the cooperation will be conducive to the agricultural sustainability not only in China, but also in the world.

  May this meeting a complete success.

  Thank you!

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