China is a major agricultural country with large population and relatively limited agricultural resources. Rigorous resource saving measures and comprehensive utilization is a strategic task for accelerating the development of the animal industry and the whole of agriculture in the country. The implementation of the Animal production based on crop residues (APCR) project will have the following advantages:
full utilization of crop residues;
large increases in beef and mutton outputs;
improvements in people's diet;
great savings in feed grain, reducing grain demand pressure;
restructuring of rural industries;
drive the development of interrelated industries;
open up greater opportunity for farmers to break away from poverty by raising farmer income;
increase soil organic matter;
improve soil structure;
promote a virtuous circle of farming system with sustainable development; and
reduce environmental pollution from burning straw.
Practice has proved that full utilization of crop residues for livestock and the return of manure to farmland, implementing the integration of crops and livestock and instituting a grain-saving pattern for the animal production system, is suitable for agriculture development under Chinese conditions.
In 1992, the State began the establishment of APCR demonstration bases, and since implementation of the National scheme for development of animal production based on crop residues programme 1996-2000 great progress has been made. At the end of 1999, the APCR demonstration counties had reached 323 in 30 provinces (autonomous regions or municipalities directly under the Central Government). There were 243 for cattle and 80 for sheep and goats. In addition, 13 APCR demonstration prefectures have formed in those areas where demonstration counties are closely distributed (243 counties, equivalent to 12 percent of the total) with a beef output equivalent to 40 percent of the nation. With the promotion of the APCR project, China's cattle sector has moved into a rapid development period. In only eight years (1992-1999), national beef output sharply increased by 230 percent, the fastest of all animal products. The proportion of beef in total meat supply went from 4.9 to 8.5 percent. In the same period, sheep and goat raising in the cropping areas also developed fast, increasing by 110 percent.
Through implementation of the APCR project, the utilization of crop residues has increased significantly. Since 1992, the amount of silage and ammoniated residues used in the country has doubled. The feed use of crop residues went from 20 to 37 percent (1999), of which treated straw rose from 4.2 to 12 percent. In 1999, silage reached 117 millionton and ammoniated residues 50 million tonne, these two saving 37 million tonne of feed grain (conversion based on the oat unit). Adding the untreated residues directly used as feed, the total grain saved was about 60 million tonne. This made a great contribution to reducing the gap between supply and demand of grain.
According to estimates, from 1992 to 2000, the APCR project generated ¥ 70 000 million net benefits (the input-output ratio is 1:7.1). In addition, the project also produced tangible social and environmental benefits.
Although the APCR project has attained great achievements, the continuing development of agricultural production has meant that the amount of crop residues increases year by year. Together with the improvement in living standards, fewer farmers use residues as domestic fuel. There are about 10 million tonne of extra residues every year. Burning surplus residues not only wastes valuable resources, but it also causes severe air pollution. So far, of all the measures to utilize crop residues in China, APCR is the most mature from the technical point of view and from its integrative benefits. Thus, simply by further strengthening the implementation of APCR, it should be possible to solve the pollution problem caused by burning of crop residues.
Following the instructions of Vice Premier Wen Jiabao - "We must make unremitting efforts to accomplish the implementation of APCR project", and meeting the demands throughout the country, MOA formulated a new APCR Scheme for the subsequent decade (2000-2010), implementing the second phase of the APCR project.
By 2010, silage will reach 250 million tonne (fresh weight), ammoniated straw 120 million tonne, treatment rate 27 percent and crop residue feeding rate 55 percent. The total amount of crop residues will be 700 million tonne, of which 385 million tonne will be used as feed.
By 2010, the increased productive capacity will be 3 million tonne for mutton and 5 million tonne for beef. They will increase their contribution to total meat from 12.7 (1999) to 20 percent.
To speed up the establishment of APCR demonstration bases, concentrate the build up of demonstration counties in those areas with better basic conditions to gradually constitute demonstration prefectures. In these prefectures, give full priority to regionalization, specialization and industrialization. By 2010, APCR demonstration prefectures will number 60 and demonstration counties will be 700. There will be 47 new APCR demonstration prefectures and 300 new demonstration counties, and continue establishing 10 prefectures and 200 counties.
The regional development plan for the APCR project consists of strengthening and further developing the central plain beef cattle zone, but devoting major efforts to develop the northeastern beef cattle zone, and actively initiating the south China beef zone. In coordination with the national Great development strategy for west China, the establishment of demonstration prefectures and counties should favour west China. The establishment of a group of APCR demonstration counties in the crop and pastoral mixed zone will combine animal raising based on grass with APCR, promoting shed raising systems instead of grazing, rehabilitating grassland, and striving to combine arable harvests, animal production and ecological construction.
APCR scope will be further extended by summarizing and standardizing the APCR productive pattern, gradually establishing a production system combining crops and livestock suitable to conditions in China.
· The APCR project should be continuously listed in the State Agricultural Comprehensive Development Programme (SACDP). Depending on the national financial situation, the input for the APCR project should increase yearly. When the project for a demonstration county expires, repaid funds should be used for other APCR projects. The main inputs for the APCR project come from farmers. Raising of funds should follow this principle: farmers and local governments are the main investors. Governments at all levels should raise funds in multiple ways, and especially should provide local counterpart funds and actively guide farmers to increase inputs, so as to ensure that the national APCR project is fulfilled smoothly.
· MOA and the governments of all provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions must formulate medium- and long-term programme and annual implementation plans for the APCR project. The regional project layout should be relatively concentrated. Programme contents should not only include treatment of crop residues and animal raising, i.e. livestock production, but also pre-production (feed production, breed improvement, etc.) and post-production (slaughter, product processing, build up of a market system, etc.) to form a development framework for regionalization and specialization. The programme should also include goal targets, such as treatment and utilization indexes for crop residues, existing and sold animals, carcass weights, meat yield indexes for cattle, sheep etc., and specific mechanisms to achieve these indexes.
· Implementing the guiding policy of paying equal attention to innovations and to follow-up the existing during the establishment of demonstration bases in the second phase of APCR project will consolidate existing bases while creating new ones.
· Popularizing milk as food is a major strategy in China. Therefore raising of dairy animals should be given priority during the implementation of the second phase of the APCR project.
· Strengthen scientific research and technical extension work related to APCR. The development of the APCR project must rely on scientific and technical progress. MOA and the agricultural scientific and technical institutions, at all levels, should provide necessary resources and technical capacity to strengthen the research work on technology of crop residues treatment, and on selection of suitable animal breeds for APCR. Research and extend simple and practical technologies for supplementary feeding (such as molasses-urea block). Popularize a complete set of technologies for scientifically-based animal husbandry, disease prevention, offspring survival, etc., continuously improving technical levels and the economic benefits of APCR. Conduct multiple types of training courses, guiding and assisting farmers to master practical techniques. Organize pre-production, production and post-production aspects; Tackle key problem plan, Spark plan, Double harvest plan, etc. Research programmes should choose APCR and herbivore product processing as a major focus.
· Speeding up the development of the APCR project has major strategic significance for the economy of China. Government at all levels must carry out this work as a priority. They should place this work on the agenda, assigning specific persons as responsible for it, with adequate work coordination between relevant departments, and conscientiously solving the emerging problems during implementation.
· Government at all levels should strengthen the management of the APCR project, strictly implementing project stipulations, detailed implementing rules as well as a system for rewards and penalties. MOA and the State Agricultural Comprehensive Development Office ought to further perfect the existing project managing system and the detailed implementing rules. Application, approval, input of funds, administrative management, monitoring and acceptance of project: all these must be strictly implemented according to the administrative managing system and the detailed implementing rules. They ought to strengthen the incentive mechanism of project management. Those departments with marked results should be given priority for investment allocation, based on giving investment as a reward. For those persons with significant work, they should be given honour and reward; and for those project units that can not fulfil the demonstration role, their project might be cancelled.