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Guo Tingshuang and
Yang Zhenhai
Ministry of Agriculture

A grain-saving strategy to develop animal production in China

Since the "Reform and Opening-up" of 1978, animal production in China has grown steadily year by year. In 1999, total meat output reached 59.5 million tonne and egg output 21.3 million tonne, both ranked first in the world. For the ten years after 1978, China represented nearly half the total global annual increase in meat and egg production. Even though population increased continuously, per capita meat, egg and milk production rose with an ample margin. Between 1949 and 1979, annual per capita meat consumption amounted to less than 5 kg, but by the end of the 1990s it had increased by 39 kg of meat per capita (Figure 1-1).

Although the livestock sector has shown remarkable achievements in the past two decades, there are also hidden worries. One of the main concerns is the lack of feed grain. Cereal production is a weak link in the national economy. During the last decade, grain output growth could not keep up with the increase in population, and at the same time arable area has been constantly reduced. Therefore, the future of grain supply may be very serious. One or two exceptional harvest years can not fundamentally change this situation. According to researchers, per capita grain-equivalent consumption in some metropolises such as Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Shenyang, Guangzhou, etc. has already exceeded 400 kg. In Beijing, direct grain consumption was only 120 kg in 1989, but consumption of meat, eggs and milk required the equivalent of 400 kg extra, bring the total to more than 520 kg of grain-equivalent per capita. Grain production per capita in China was only 389 kg in 1999. If the consumption level of meat, eggs and milk in the whole of China had reached by 2000 that of Beijing in 1989, 182 million tonne of additional grain would have been necessary. During the past decade, net increase in grain yield was only 80 million tonne. Therefore, if the livestock sector were to depend mostly on grain, its development would inevitably be seriously restricted.

Figure 1-1. Development of per capita meat consumption in China

The dependency of the animal industry on grain relates to its structure. Over the past decades, due to state promotion, swine rearing developed rapidly and became the largest animal sector in the country. In 1978, pork represented more than 94 percent of total meat output. Since the "Reform and Opening-up," this situation has gradually changed. The proportion of poultry, beef and mutton increased yearly, while that of pork fell. Currently, pork still represents 67 percent of total consumption, but poultry, beef and mutton now contribute 20, 7.8 and 4 percent, respectively. Compared with world data (Table 1-1), China is the leader in pork production, with 50 percent, but only produces 10 percent of beef. Generally speaking, feed conversion efficiency in swine is less than for poultry. On this basis, suitably limiting swine rearing and promoting poultry production ought to be a rational strategy. In the past 20 years, great effort was made to develop poultry production, with significant progress made. The proportion of poultry meat rose from 8.6 to 20 percent, and its growth is expected to continue. However, both swine and poultry require concentrates as their main feed and therefore they will be inevitably restricted by grain shortages. The rearing of herbivores without grain, but with small quantities of oil cake, should show considerable development. Adhering to a grain-saving strategy for the industry, the future of China's livestock development can be firmly based on stable feed resources, less susceptible to grain production fluctuations.

Table 1.1. Meat distribution in the world and in China in 1998 (in percent)




Poultry meat














The well-known economist, Mr Yu Guangyuan, considered that the grain problem in China was essentially a feed issue. As indicated before, per capita grain output is 389 kg, more than enough to cover direct food grain needs (230 kg each), but not enough for feed. It is therefore clear that establishing a grain-saving strategy in the animal sector could help alleviate the problem. Certainly, the significance of this ought not to be underestimated. India, also a developing country with large population and limited farmland, faces a similar situation. Per capita grain yield is slightly more than one half of China's, but India does not need to import grain, because they have adopted a grain-saving approach to feeding livestock. From Figure 1-2 it can be observed that pursuing the USA way, in other words, devoting 70 percent of grain production to animal feeds, over half of the Chinese population would have no food grain. But following India's example, using only 2 percent of grain as feed, China's grain is not only sufficient, but there would be a huge surplus. Of course, it is not advocated to imitate India, but the experience can certainly be a valid reference to consider for the Chinese case.

Figure 1-2. Feed grain as a proportion of total grain output

Arguments for a strategy for herbivores in China

Chinese experts have had active debates for a while on how best to raise domestic herbivores. Whenever mentioning their development, people always think of the vast northern prairie. The verse

"the blue sky, the boundless grassland,
while wind blows, grass, cattle and sheep can be found"

is very well known. The northern prairie, with nearly 300 million ha, almost three times the total farming area of the country, has been the basis of traditional herbivore production. In the past several thousand years, Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Qinghai and Tibet have been the main regions for herbivore production. For several decades, exploitative use (mainly overgrazing and excessive land conversion of natural pasture to arable) has caused serious deterioration in the northern prairie. Consequently, forage output has declined by 30-50 percent since the 1950s. Meanwhile, animal numbers increased after the founding of People's Republic of China in 1949. The current carrying capacity of the northern prairie for existing animals is insufficient, so how can anyone talk about livestock development there? A fundamental ecological recovery of the northern prairie would require significant investments and the efforts of several generations. Certainly, one could not get the desired result in a short period. Therefore, the development of herbivore production can not be expected from grasslands.

The above argument has been disputed. Someone said that over the past several decades people have just extracted products from the prairie, with little input. The State provided under one yuan (US$ 1 = ¥ 8.27) per mu (1/15 ha) of grassland. With sufficient investment to favourably recover the prairie ecology, the huge potential of the grasslands could be exploited for livestock. In the future, the government would need to greatly increase investment in grasslands. However, as China is a developing country, it is unrealistic to expect large investments for this purpose. Recovering the prairies, constructing a whole system with water, grass, forest, machinery and roads, would need at least ¥ 300/mu, implying the sum of ¥ 1012 for the 3 300 million mu of utilizable grassland - an astronomical figure! The current State annual budget for livestock is only several hundred million yuan. If this funding level were devoted solely to grassland reconstruction, a thousand years would be needed. However, this simplistic analysis clearly demonstrates that large investment for prairie rehabilitation is not a viable option. The current urgent issue is to prevent further grassland deterioration. Grasslands must recover gradually, with reasonable inputs.

If natural grassland is not available, what about artificial pastures? There have been suggestions that China should follow New Zealand's approach, and rely on planted grass, with almost no concentrates. The prosperous livestock sector brought New Zealand to its developed status. South China, with over one thousand million mu of grassy hills and slopes, and favourable water and climatic resources, better than in the northern prairie, could be transformed into several New Zealands. This proposal has a certain validity, since the southern grassy hills and slopes clearly have an enormous potential. In certain locations, artificial grasslands could be established, but this approach, as a general strategy, is not advisable. This is because the available farmland must be used for food crops, rather than for forage, so as to feed the huge population. New Zealand uses 270 000 km2 (twice Jiangsu Province) to feed 3.3 million people ad to export (Jiangsu Province has over 50 million). Going the New Zealand way, China's 9.6 million km2 could only feed 120 million people. And how to feed the rest, over 1 000 million people?

If the grassland strategy for livestock development is not feasible, then what is the option? Extensive research and vast demonstrations have shown that rural areas have an extraordinary potential for herbivore production. In China, there is an annual production of 500 million tonne of grain and 600 million tonne of crop residues (Table 1-2), the latter equivalent to almost fifty times the hay from the northern prairie. Furthermore, the ample supplies of cottonseed cake, rapeseed cake and brans can be used as inexpensive concentrates. Relying on abundant roughage and concentrates, coupled with a benign climate and sufficient qualified staff, the rural areas are rapidly developing and becoming the main source for herbivore products in China. The comparison between Inner Mongolia and Henan Provinces clearly illustrates this. In 1982, Henan Province had 55 000 head of cattle, one sixth of Inner Mongolia. Four years later, Henan Province had surpassed Inner Mongolia, and in 1999 it produced 5 518 million head of cattle, over four times that of Inner Mongolia (Figure 1-3).

Table 1-2. Amounts of various crop residues in 1993 ('000 tonne)

Crop residue


Crop residue


Rice straw

187 913

Peanut vine

6 623

Wheat straw

109 292

Rape stalks

20 874

Maize stover

155 152

Sugar cane tops

14 405

Millet straw

6 390

Sesame stalks


Sorghum stubble

10 228

Sunflower stalks


Soybean straw

14 985

Cotton leaves

2 705

Coarse grain straw

19 588

Edible sesame stalks

1 600

Sweet potato vine

24 359


575 215

SOURCE: Data from Non-conventional Feed Development and Application Task Team (Agricultural Science Academy of China, 1993).

NOTE: In 1993, grain output was 450 million tonne. Now it is 500 million tonne, so the amount of crop residues should be over 600 million tonne

Figure 1-3. Cattle production development in Henan and Inner Mongolia Provinces

Currently, the agricultural areas of the Central Plain provinces of Shandong, Henan, Anhui and Hebei have already become the leading beef and mutton producers in the country, more than Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Qinghai and Tibet Provinces, the largest pastoral zones. Apart from these four agricultural provinces, many other areas have similar conditions, and with a suitable approach, these also have the production potential of the Central Plain provinces, and could quickly become beef cattle zones or goat and sheep belts.

It is clear that agricultural areas have an immense potential for herbivore production. This approach can be termed animal production based on crop residues. The fact that livestock production based on crop residues is advocated does seem to ignore pasture production. Both are very important and mutually complementary. Currently, special emphasis is given to livestock in crop areas because it had been neglected in the past, with its enormous potential ignored.

The debate on herbivore development strategies has so far concluded that livestock based on crop residues is the most viable for China. The agricultural areas should be the main source for herbivore production.

Methods for improving the feeding value of crop residues

Crop residues are the main agricultural by-products in the countryside. Since ancient times, Chinese farmers have traditionally fed crop residues to herbivores. From the 600 million tonne of crop residues produced at present, about a third is used as feed. Most of this was untreated, and thus with low digestibility, low crude protein (CP) content and poor palatability, and so intake has been low. Untreated residues can barely satisfy maintenance requirements, and, as a result, animal performance is modest. For the past twenty years, scientists and technicians in China have studied and tested several methods for improving the feeding value of crop residues, and these are summarized here.

Physical methods

Chopping straw and stubble to 1 cm, or a little longer, before feeding is practised widely in the north. There is a saying among farmers "chopping hay to one inch, fattening can be done without concentrate." Scientific tests have shown that chopping does not improve straw digestibility, but it increases intake to a certain degree and reduces feed waste. It is a simple and effective method, with ample practical application. Grinding straw does not improve digestibility either, it just wastes energy in vain. However, ground straw easily mixes with other feed components. It is widely applied in feedlot fattening.

Apart from chopping and grinding, others have tried steaming, irradiation treatment, etc., as means to improve the feeding value of crop residues. There has been some progress, but it has not reached the practical application stage. There is also the so-called "salting" method, in which chopped straw is soaked in a dilute salt solution before feeding. Although this method has not been scientifically tested, many farmers in northeast and north China practise it, considering it effective.

Biological methods

The purpose is to allow microbes to degrade cellulose or lignin in straw as a means to improve its nutritive value. In the past half century, many local and foreign scientists have conducted research on this approach, but until now the ideal method has not been found. In the early 1990s, the "micro-storage" technology became popular. MOA found that this technology did not improve straw digestibility, but the treatment resulted in a product with a fragrance similar to wine, which improved palatability and intake. Thereby farmers welcomed it, and it was rapidly popularized.

Up to now, silage is still the most important microbial treatment method in practical application. In 1999, silage making surpassed the 100 million tonne level nationally, but its main limitation is that at best it can preserve the nutrients contained in green straw. Silage making is very widely used.

Chemical methods

Alkalization and ammoniation are the main chemical methods. In the 1920s, Beckman, a German scientist, successfully used sodium hydroxide to treat stalks, greatly improving digestibility. During the Second World War, northern European countries applied the Beckman method extensively. The main shortcomings of alkalization are its high cost and pollution, and ammoniation replaced it after the mid-1970s. Ammoniation has been widely applied in China for its low level of environment pollution, lower cost and ease of application.

In 1999, nationwide, ammoniation of residues exceeded 50 million tonne. Although ammoniation has practical advantages, it improves digestibility less than does alkalization. Recently, some scientists are studying combinations of the two treatments. Some progress has been made, but it is still not popular.

To summarize, although scientific and technical experts have conducted many studies and tests on how to improve feeding value of crop residues, the only popular treatment methods so far are ensiling and ammoniation.

Plate 1-1. Wheat straw, an abundant resource in north China

Plate 1-2. Rice straw, an abundant resource in south China

Plate 1-3. A traditional way of feeding straw to cattle in South China

Plate 1-4. Burning of residues still happens frequently

Extension of technology and herbivore development

Since the 1950s, MOA has promoted silage making. After harvesting the grain, sorghum spikes and maize ears, the stalks are successfully ensiled. While ensiling was manual, the amount was small, but with mechanization and use of plastic sheets, it rapidly increased (Figure 1-4). Nevertheless, the silage making season is a very busy time for farmers due to autumn harvesting, ploughing and seeding, and often they do not have time available in which to make silage, leaving crop residues untreated. Thus, silage making is restricted because most stalks are already dry and withered before the farmer can ensile them.

Figure 1-4. Silage making in China in recent years.

In the mid-1980s, MOA provided financial support for crop residue ammoniation research. Afterwards, some small-scale demonstrations and extension were conducted. In the last decades, agricultural universities, research institutions and technical extension departments from different counties have carried out much work on crop residue treatment, demonstration and extension.

In 1987, FAO sent experts to China to provide technical guidance. From 1988 to 1992, FAO and UNDP provided funds and executed two projects (TCP/CPR/8858 and FAO/UNDP/88/057). During implementation, outstanding experts (such as E.R. Orskov, F. Sundstol, F. Dolberg and P. Finlayson) came to work in China. Many Chinese technical officers and experts were also sent abroad for studies and training. Thus, ammoniation technology and cattle raising based on crop residues matured. Extension efforts were also fostered.

According to MOA, ammoniated residues increased from 148 000 tonne in 1987 to 50 million tonne in 1999 (Figure 1-5). There are currently over 8 million farmers already applying this technology.

The extension of ammoniation technology greatly encouraged the development of APCR. Today, it is no longer a dream to raise many beef cattle in regions without grasslands. Beef production in agricultural areas has been very successful. In only six to seven years, some agricultural provinces became the leading beef producers of the country, with 90 percent of total output. Beef is the fastest growing meat sector (Figure 1-6). In 1999, China produced 5 054 million tonne of beef, over triple that prior to project start in 1991.

Figure 1-5. Ammoniation of crop residues in China in recent years

Utilizing crop residues as the feed base to develop cattle raising has been the main achievement of APCR. However, it has gone well beyond cattle. The following sections describe other important accomplishments.

Figure 1-6. Growth curves for production of various meats (1985 as 100%)

Sheep and goat raising

Since the "Reform and Opening-up," along with economic growth and livelihood improvement, mutton demand and price have increased. In contrast, sheep and goat production were in decline at one time. Research demonstrated that due to grassland deterioration and forage shortage, sheep and goat raising was constrained in agricultural areas. At the same time, grazing sheep and goats also conflicted with forestry, and mountain areas were closed for forest protection. This led to a lack of grazing land for sheep and goats, limiting production. Feed trials indicated that sheep and goats are similar to cattle in digesting crop residues. If the modality of feeding sheep and goats were changed from grazing to use of crop residues, silage and ammoniated stalks, properly supplemented with concentrates, a significant development in sheep and goat production could be expected. In 1993, based on our proposal, the State Council decided to include sheep and goat raising with crop residues in the State Agricultural Comprehensive Development Programme (SACDP). From that point, sheep and goat production began a period of fast development. In 1999, domestic mutton output reached 2 513 million tonne, over double the figure before project start in 1991, with 80 percent coming from the agricultural areas.

Buffalo production

There are over 20 million buffaloes in China, the second largest population in the world. Buffaloes are mainly used for traction, and in most regions of China. With agricultural mechanization, the role of buffaloes for draught weakens yearly. If an alternative use of buffalo for milk and meat is not found, recession in the buffalo population will be unavoidable. Furthermore, buffalo rearing in south China is based on grazing, and weight loss is serious due to insufficient grass. Besides, grazing land has been reduced due to forest protection in recent years. Without a change in raising modality, buffalo will be certainly difficult to develop.

Trials have shown that buffaloes digest crop residues very well, and considering that their milk and dairy products are much appreciated and demanded in Europe, development based on ammoniated stalks could have export opportunities. Buffalo meat is also well accepted, not only in Guangdong and Guangxi, but also in Hong Kong and Macao. The Yellow cattle are very small in south China, and there is a saying "a shoulder pole can carry two cattle." If cattle of this region are not improved, it will be hard to meet export standards for size. In contrast, buffaloes can easily meet these size requirements (for Hong Kong and Macao) without improvement. Both buffalo meat and milk are excellent, and buffaloes are also suitable for roughage-based feeding, so there is a bright prospect for them. The State has already established buffalo demonstration counties in Guangxi Autonomous Region. Dairy and meat buffalo production units will appear in south China in the coming years.

Dairy production

The possibility of developing dairy production in agricultural areas is also very large. Except in Heilongjiang Province, the country's dairy cows are mainly around large- or medium-sized cities. The shortage of forage in these areas has already become one of most important limiting factors restricting production. Large amounts of hay are bought annually for the more than 60 000 dairy cows of Beijing, from as far away as the northeastern regions, at a cost of almost ¥ 10 million. In recent years, tests carried by the Beijing Dairy Cow Centre substantiated that hay could be substituted, partly or totally, by ammoniated residues. If this change occurs in practise, not only would feed costs be sharply reduced, but also transportation shortages alleviated. There is therefore a solution to the dairy cow roughage supply problem in urban areas. Per capita milk consumption in China is less than 7 kg, far below 10 percent of the world's mean. The domestic market for dairy products is very large indeed. Applying APCR for dairy cattle can greatly increase milk production. China produced 8 069 million tonne of milk in 1999, 154 percent more than in 1991.

Deer rearing

With higher living standards, demand for a variety of delicacies has increased in recent years, and so deer production also has bright prospects. In New Zealand, deer are raised just like sheep. Deer graze pastures all year round, without special care. During the Qing Dynasty, royal deer gardens were set up in the northeastern provinces, so deer husbandry in China is more than a century old, with animals tamer than those in New Zealand. Implementing deer raising based on crop residues can benefit the deer sector. In recent years, deer farms have been established in the Guangdong Leizhou Peninsula. Despite differences in climate and feed compared to the northeast, deer do very well. Velvet antler quality is also quite good. This indicates that trying silage and ammoniated residues as the basic feed to develop deer is well justified.

Economic, social, agronomic and environmental benefits of developing animal production based on crop residues

The importance of APCR goes beyond the animal industry itself. Its development not only implies significant economic benefits, but also results in attractive social and environmental benefits. These are summarized below.

APCR can save large amounts of feed grain.

There were 117 million tonne of silage made and 50 million tonne of crop residues ammoniated in China in 1992. This represented grain feed savings of over 37.7 million tonne (using the "oat unit" for conversion). Currently, 200 million tonne of treated crop residues and 111 million tonne of untreated crop residues are being used as feed in the country, saving the equivalent of 22 million tonne of feed grain. The utilization of crop residues could be doubled within ten years, and, in this case, annual grain savings would increase to 120 million tonne, meeting 80 percent of grain demand. The significance of this can not really be underestimated.

APCR favours agriculture

In the past decade, increasing amounts of chemical fertilizer have been applied to land as one of main methods to raise grain yields. However, this practice raises costs, worsens soil condition and causes environment pollution. The utilization efficiency of chemical fertilizer in China is only 30 percent. Nearly 70 percent flows into rivers, lakes and sea. This has caused nutrient enrichment of water bodies and sporadic coastal "red tides".

In recent years, the Agricultural Department has strongly encouraged the direct return of crop residues to farmland to increase fertility, organic matter content and to raise the soil's capacity to conserve water and nutrients. However, direct application of crop residues to farmland is expensive and potentially harmful to germination of the following crop. In addition, this practice might not help to reduce crop diseases and pests. Because of these concerns and despite strong promotion, the direct return of residues to agricultural land remains very limited.

When crop residues pass through the animal digestive system and are returned to farmland as manure, the above worries cease. It has been already demonstrated that silage (anaerobic fermentation) and ammoniation reduce harmful microbes, pests and weed seeds. In addition, digestion of crop residues and application to land further reduces microbial pathogens and weeds. Tests over many years at the Beijing Plant Quarantine Institute showed that ammoniation treatment killed almost all the seeds of Pseudosorghum spp., as well as other weeds.

The benefits of returning manure to land have been known for long time. Wuji County, Hebei Province, a demonstration county for cattle production based on crop residues, became the top county in beef production in the province. With many cattle, annual returns of manure to farmland in Wuji County are of the order of 290 000 tonne, sparing 7 000 tonne of chemical fertilizer. This enables a reduction in grain production costs of US$ 54/ton. Soil organic matter content increased 0.15 percent within 5 years, and soil water and fertilizer retention were improved significantly.

Fuyang Prefecture (Anhui Province), with 10 counties, is an advanced prefecture for cattle raising with crop residues. Its beef production exceeds that of the whole of Inner Mongolia. As cattle numbers increase, so does the manure available for agriculture. Between 1985 and 1999, soil organic matter content went from 1.2 to 1.8 percent, and grain yield doubled. The net result was higher margins, with 30 percent lower costs.

In other APCR demonstration prefectures (such as Zhoukou, Shangqiu, Nanyang, Zhumadian and Dezhou), grain output increases were higher than provincial or national averages.

Reducing environmental pollution

Farmers have used crop residues as feed, fuel and building material (for cottage roofing) for generations. Over the last decade, most farmers have gradually adopted coal as fuel, but some use biogas (methane), liquefied natural gas (around large cities) or electricity (in southern mountain areas). The number of farmers who still burn residues for fuel are decreasing yearly. Furthermore, along with the improvements in living standards, thatched cottages are already scarce. The reduced use of crop residues for fuel and construction have caused surpluses to accumulate, becoming a public hazard. Farmers are often forced to burn them, which not only causes air pollution, but affects people's health, industrial production and traffic safety. According to reports, air pollution from burning crop residues leads to low quality textile production in Shijiazhuang City every autumn at harvest time. Furthermore, burning of crop residues often leads to uncontrolled conflagrations. In Guanzhong Prefecture, more than 100 000 trees were burnt, and in the northeast, fires extended to villages. In recent years, due to the smoke from burning crop residues, aeroplanes have difficulties at take off and landing, and there have been car accidents. Such reports are increasing all the time. Feeding crop residues and returning the manure to the land resolves these problems. In fact, in those prefectures where APCR has been extensively adopted (such as Fuyang Prefecture), burning of crop residues rarely occurs.

Benefits in terms of meat availability

Beef and mutton are healthy meats due to their lower fat and higher protein content compared to pork. Since the implementation of APCR, beef and mutton as a proportion of total meat intake has already increased from 8.6 percent in 1991 to 12.7 percent in 1999. Pork has dropped from 78 to 67.3 percent. APCR has not only significantly increased beef and mutton outputs, improving meat availability for urban and rural residents, but also has made meat supply more balanced.

Helping farmers to leave poverty

In coastal areas, farmers work in township enterprises, exporting agricultural products, and even as urban employees to earn money. Inland farmers do not have these opportunities. Cattle and sheep raising is a reliable alternative to earn money since feed (crop residues) and supplements (cottonseed cakes, bran, etc.) are readily available. For rearing 1-2 cattle or 8-10 sheep, only part-time labour is needed. In three northern areas (north, northeast and northwest) and in the regions of the Yellow, Wei and Hai rivers, large-scale studies revealed that net income from planting 1 mu of wheat is on average only ¥ 100. Raising a sheep also earns ¥ 100, but income from one beef animal is ¥ 1 200, and from a dairy cow, ¥ 3-4 000, more than the average farmer's total income. This explains the farmers' saying:

"Raising two cattle: no need to worry about incidental expenses
Raising three cattle: one storey built every year."

Recognizing the strategic significance of APCR, senior leaders have paid great attention to it. As early as 1990, the central leadership received the recommendations on APCR from 14 specialists, and fully endorsed them. In 1992, State Councillor Chen Junsheng made a special inspection trip to Henan Province. His report emphasized the importance and feasibility of APCR development. The Premier fully accepted Mr Chen's report and praised it highly, writing that it was "an exciting report." During 1992-2000, the State Council asked MOA to successively convene six national conferences on APCR, asking local governments to use crop residue resources fully for development of herbivore production in their agricultural areas. Furthermore, in 1992, the State Council transmitted the document of MOA on "Energetically exploiting crop residues resources, developing rural herbivore production" to various provinces. In 1996, the State Council again approved and issued the "1996-2000 National scheme for animal production based on crop residues and farmland projects," asking all provinces (municipalities and autonomous regions) to implement it. Meanwhile, the funds for APCR provided by central government increased from ¥ 10 million in 1992 to ¥ 55 million in 2000. In nine years, the central government has allocated ¥ 367 million, with local governments contributing ¥ 400 million as counterpart funds. In addition, the state provided some urea and plastic film, especially for crop residue ammoniation.

In 2000, there were 13 APCR demonstration prefectures and 380 demonstration counties in 30 provinces (including municipalities and autonomous regions). APCR is clearly a national effort.

The main successful extension experiences

Highly relevant theme for national conditions

China is a major agricultural country with a large population and with rather limited resources. Adopting strict measures for saving and comprehensively using resources is a basic national policy. Crop residues are huge by-product resources from agriculture. The implementation of the APCR project converted these by-products into valuable commodities, benefiting the nation and its people. For this reason, once the APCR proposal was brought up, it was accepted by the central government, and, once started, farmers welcomed it.

Practical work was essential for rapid success

In developing countries, it is hard to achieve success in extension without government support. Mr Guo Tingshuang, head of the APCR programme, not only sent memoranda to senior officials, but also went to the State Council many times to request approval of APCR in order to get central government support. In addition, he accompanied State Council leaders a visit to Zhou Kou Prefecture, when the practicality of APCR was confirmed. The project finally got support from Former Premier Li Peng and other authorities. During the nine years of the project, the State Council convened six National Conferences on APCR. The "National scheme for APCR 1996-2000 development" was issued by the central government. All provincial governments were asked to carry out the scheme. So far, the extension of APCR has not only been the task of livestock technicians; there are also 40 000 extension workers whose excellent work has been praised by MOA. With this wide scope and numerous active technicians, the APCR implies an unprecedented bright future in China.

Equal emphasis on all benefits

With an integrated view, the APCR project paid equal attention to all benefits: economic, social, agronomic and environmental. This brought the attention of central leaders, who welcome the project and its approach.

A complete project

Research combined with demonstrations, technology extension, funding, materials and policies, together constituted a complete system. That was also a key for success. In the past, extension workers paid only attention to technology by itself, ignoring financial, material and policy support. This way their goals were hard to accomplish. In the APCR project, staff not only looked at research results, but also provided timely funding and materials (urea, plastic film, machinery, etc.), besides striving for government policy support. As a consequence, the extension work progressed smoothly.

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