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Report on China's development and investment in land and water - Zhou Yinghua

Zhou Yinghua, Director, Development Division
Department of Development and Planning
Ministry of Agriculture, China


China is known as a natural resources deficient country. Quantitatively speaking, water resource per capita is approximately 2 200 m3, only 30 percent of the world average. Arable land per capita is 0.1 ha, only 40 percent of the world average. Qualitatively speaking, China's water and land resources are far from being easily developed and utilized due to the fact of slope land, soil layers, erosion and other problems. Geographically, south China has abundant water but is deficient in land while north China is abundant in land but deficient in water. The combination of a large population and insufficient natural resources severely impedes the sustainability of China’s agriculture and social economic development.

In order to increase capital construction in agriculture, enhance the ability to prevent and control disasters, strengthen the foundation of agriculture, facilitate the steady improvement of comprehensive agricultural production capacity and ensure the sustainability of agriculture, the Chinese government has made significant efforts in water and land development and conservation, which can be reflected in the following aspects:

Thanks to these unremitting efforts, notable results have been achieved in China’s water and land development. This is demonstrated by the fact that China feeds 22 percent of the world’s population with only 10 percent of the world’s arable land. And with per capita availability of grain having risen to some 400 kg, 1.3 billion Chinese people now live comfortable lives.

As water and land management in China involves different administrative departments, and the manner of investment in water and land by the state, collective units and farmers varies, it is difficult to get accurate statistics on total investment in water and land nationwide. Therefore, we try to provide information and understanding concerning water and land development and conservation by introducing several major activities and programmes.

Achievement in China’s water and land development

All - round and rapid development in agricultural production

Since China's founding, agricultural production recovered rapidly and developed continuously. Production capacity has risen greatly. In 1978, total output of grain and cotton reached 304.47 million tonnes and 2.167 million tonnes respectively, increasing by 1.69 and 3.88 times over 1949. During the same period, livestock inventory was 93.89 million head, an increase of 56.4 percent. Total meat output including pork, beef and mutton was 8.563 million tonnes, 2.89 times more than 1949. Fisheries output was 4.653 million tonnes, an increase of 9.4 times against 1949.


Production of major commodities 1949 - 2000








Grain (10 000 tonnes)

11 318

16 390

19 455

30 477

32 056

46 662

46 218

Cotton (10 000 tonnes)








Livestock (10 000 heads)

1 149

7 646

8 421

9 389

9 525

15 862

15 152

Meat (10 000 tonnes)





1 205.4

4 265.3

6 124.6

Fisheries (10 000 tonnes)







4 278

The opening - up and reform policy undertaken since 1978 greatly released productivity. Farming, livestock and fisheries production increased tremendously. Compared with perennial farm produce shortages in the past, farm production today is balanced and even produces a surplus in some years. In 2000, China's total grain output amounted to 462 million tonnes, an increase of 51.6 percent against 1978 and 3.08 times that of 1949. Total cotton output reached 4.417 million tonnes, an increase of 1.03 times relative to 1978 and 9.94 times that of 1949. Total output of oil products reached 29.55 million tonnes, an increase of 5.67 times that of 1978 and 10.52 times that of 1949. In 2000, total production of pork, beef and mutton reached 61.25 million tonnes, an increase of 6.15 times against 1978 and 26.84 times against 1949. Milk output reached 9.191 million tonnes, an increase of 8.5 times against 1978. Egg output was 22.43 million tonnes, 3.2 times more than 1985. In 2000, China's total fisheries output was 4 278 million tonnes, an increase of 8.18 times against 1978 and 94.19 times that of 1949.

Farmers’ income and living standards improved

While agricultural production and rural economy achieved continuous development, farmers’ income level has also been upgraded dramatically. In 1978, farmers' per capita net income was only 133.6 yuan, but rose to 2 253.4 yuan by 2000.

Rural reform brought about rapid all - round growth of farm production and greatly improved the food supply situation. Urban and rural residents have solved subsistence problems and enjoy well - off lives. Dietary variety and quality are notably adjusted and improved. Comparing 1998 with 1978, the grain directly consumed by farmers tended to be stable and other food consumption increased: fats and oil product consumption more than doubled, meat consumption nearly doubled, egg consumption increased over four times and fishery products more than three times.

FIGURE 1: Increase of grain production, 1949-2000

FIGURE 2: Increase of farmers' per capita income 1978 to 1998

While the quantity and quality of food consumption is improving, other living expenditures witnessed even faster growth. In 2000, farmers’ per capita living areas was 24.8 m2, a rise of 16.7 m2 compared to 1978. In particular, half timber and concrete housing construction increased significantly. Today, for every 100 rural families, there are 101.71 television sets, an increase of 7.6 times compared to 1985, 21.58 radio/tape recorder sets and 28.58 washing machines. Appliances such as refrigerators, video recorders, cameras and air conditioners have become necessities in ordinary families. In 2000, the Engel’s coefficient of rural residents was 50.1, down by 14.6 percent compared to 1978.


Change of farmers’ per capita net income, 1978 - 2000

Absolute value (yuan)

Index (1978 = 100)




























Agricultural infrastructure conserves water

Agricultural infrastructure focused on farmland water conservancy strengthened agriculture's capability to fight against natural disasters. China has suffered from frequent floods. In 1949, there were only six large - scale reservoirs, 17 medium - scale reservoirs and a few small reservoirs and dams. For 50 years, China's government and people have painstakingly built water conserving engineering works for flood control, irrigation, drainage and water supply.

While focusing on control on major rivers and lakes, the state also enhanced control of medium and small rivers and construction, maintenance and management of reservoirs to build capacity to counter both floods and drought. By the end of 1997, embankment projects countrywide totalled 251 000 km. Some 84 800 reservoirs have been built with a total capacity of 45.83 million m3, of which 3 031 reservoirs are large - and medium - scale - an increase of 3 008 or 130 times that of 1949.


Change of farmer per capita net income, expenditure and living areas, 1978 - 2000





Net income (yuan)





Living expense (yuan)










Weight (%)





Living Area (m2)





In 2000, effective irrigated areas totalled 53.9 million ha, an increase of 2.4 times the 15.93 million ha irrigated in the 1950s. Of this, 38 million ha were ensured of harvest irrespective of drought or excessive rain. Of areas subject to waterlogging, 80 percent (over 20 million ha) have been harnessed. Of total saline - alkali farmland areas, 70 percent (over 5 million ha) have been transformed.

In the 1990s, water - saving irrigation was widely applied, together with the extension of dripping irrigation, spraying irrigation, leakage prevention in canals and water transmission pipelines, so that the efficiency of irrigation is largely improved. To date 13 million ha of farmland has been served with water - saving irrigation with effective irrigation efficiency up to 34 percent.


Changes in reservoirs and irrigated areas, 1949 - 2000








Reservoirs (number)


84 600

83 219

83 387

84 775

84 837


Large/medium reservoirs (number)


2 516

2 741

2 865

2 980

3 031


Irrigated Areas (10 000 ha)

1 599

4 497

4 404

4 740

4 928

5 124

5 385

Water and soil conservation efforts have produced striking results. Through sand control and land transformation projects, some provinces like Shanxi, Ningxia and Xinjiang have become oases with beautiful landscapes in the place of formerly harsh agro - ecological environments. Forty percent of areas affected by erosion - over 70 million ha - have been reclaimed.

Basic agricultural production improvements have contributed greatly to better harvests. These achievements are closely linked with investment and development in water and land.

FIGURE 3: Increase of irrigated area, 1949-2000


Comprehensive agricultural development (CAD): China's fundamental policy

Basic goal and its policy of comprehensive agricultural development

Comprehensive Agricultural Development (CAD) was initiated in 1989. It is a policy and strategic measures to conduct macro agricultural adjustment, improve the stamina of and promote sustainable agricultural development. Its goal is to improve overall production capability of main farm produce with grain as the core, to increase the effective supply of farm produce and strengthen the vigour of agricultural development through comprehensive development and rational use of water and land resources. CAD is targeting development of water and land resources as well as comprehensive development and utilization of all other kinds of advantage resources in the development areas.

There are three major methods of water and land resources development: (i) comprehensive management is used to transform mid - and low - yielding cropland to eradicate disadvantage factors for the yield, to improve production condition, increase material and technical input, rationally adjust structures of industry and products, improve labour productivity and yield, and to follow a track of tangible development; (ii) pipeline wasteland resources are reclaimed step by step to make up the decrease of cropland and other land used for agriculture. Through extensive development, a group of new agricultural production bases will be shaped; and (iii) through development of advantage resources, exploring multiple business operations and market - oriented pioneer projects based on resource advantages. Industrial development turns out to be the pioneer project motivating production bases to also promote production of hundreds of households. In this way, agriculture and the rural economic structure will be optimized to improve farmers' income.

The goal of comprehensive agricultural development mainly lies in three aspects: (i) through comprehensive management measures, agricultural production and ecological environment will be improved. Meanwhile, high quality cropland with high and stable yields will be constructed and the capability of fighting against natural disaster will be enhanced; (ii) through extension of agriculture technical achievements, relying on technical advancement, the overall agricultural production capability will be steadily improved to ensure the effective social supply of major farm produce with grain as core; (iii) through multiple business management, market exploration and agricultural operations vertical integration will be promoted and farmer incomes in the project sites will be gradually increased.

After more than one decade practice, comprehensive agricultural development has become an important component of policy supported by the government under the socialist market economy.

Investment in comprehensive agricultural development (CAD) and its effects

Statistics indicate that CAD investment from 1988 and 2000 amounted to 115 billion yuan: 33 billion was CAD funding from central finance, 30 billion was counterpart funding from local finance, 17 billion was earmarked funding and 35 billion was contributed by rural collectives and masses. Additionally, farmers provided 9 billion workdays, equivalent to about 50 billion yuan.

During the past ten years, CAD has made remarkable achievements and has contributed greatly to improved comprehensive agricultural production capability, promoted rural economic development, expedited the realization of two fundamental changes in agriculture and the rural economy and speeded up the process of agricultural modernization, which can be summarized as follows:

To strengthen infrastructure construction and enhance stamina of agricultural development

Agricultural, water conservancy, forestry, science and technology and biological measures have been applied in CAD projects. Current land resources have been comprehensively managed in terms of mountain, water, cropland, forest and road. High level basic cropland has been achieved: the land use rate, productivity, and the capacity to resist natural disaster has improved remarkably. Through development, standard cropland with stable high yields has been produced which can be irrigated, drained and operated in efficient configurations. Forest belts, connected canals and thoroughfares are part of expedited agricultural modernization. Signaficant accomplishments were registed during CAD's first 11 years: by 1998, 259 million mu of mid - and low - yielding land was transformed; 29 million mu of wasteland suitable for cultivation was reclaimed; and 20 million mu of grassland was improved. In addition, 7 119 small - scale reservoirs were newly built or enlarged - increasing national capacity by 3.13 billion m3; 42 800 thousand drainage and irrigation stations were newly built; 1.14 million km of canals were built or restored; 314 500 km of farm service roads were built and 782 000 cultivators and weeding machines were purchased. At the same time, 226 million mu of effective irrigated area were newly expanded and improved; 132 million mu of drained area were increased and improved and 157 million mu of soil were improved. Apart from the above, 36 million mu of forest belt for cropland were afforested and cropland forest nets were made in all completed CAD project sites. Moreover, some components of agro - ecological projects - such as water conservancy projects, shelter forest on the upper reaches of the Yangtze river and afforestation on Taihang mountain - were included in the CAD scheme and achieved sound ecological benefits.

To improve overall agricultural productivity for effective supply of staple farm produce

By the end of 1998, the CAD programme had improved grain productivity by 47.72 million tonnes accounting for 40 percent of the total newly increased grain production in the same period. Meanwhile the newly increased cotton, oil - plant, meat and hay productivity was 1.11 million tonnes, 2.35 million tonnes, 4.56 million tonnes and 3.9 million tonnes respectively. This has played an important role in reliving the contradiction of supply and demand of our major farm produce, especially promoting the grain production to a higher level.

To explore the effective way of “two essential transforms” in the economy of rural China to actively create advantage conditions of realization of agricultural modernization

Comprehensive agricultural development (CAD) not only adhered to land development and management practice, but also stressed technical level improvements. Five percent of total investment was allocated for technical funding in development areas in most provinces which had accumulated 2 billion yuan in the past 11 years. Some 768 000 mu of quality seed base were constructed, 19 500 agricultural technical service systems were installed, 83.35 million man time of farmer technicians were trained to promote technical achievement applications in agriculture and improving the level of intensive agriculture. Project sites fully utilized all kinds of agricultural resources to actively develop multiple business operations and processing industry of farm produce and by - products, to explore effective ways on vertically extending agricultural integration and increasing the added value of farm produce. Vertical agricultural integration is market oriented, focusing on benefits, making arrangements regionally, industrially managing, operating in large scale and serving society are gradually becoming the direction of project sites development in future. In 11 years, 4.48 million mu of cash forests were afforested, 1.88 million mu were developed for aquaculture, more than 118.35 million livestock and poultry had been raised and 2 586 processing enterprises for farm produce and by - products were established.

Farmer incomes in the project sites increased remarkably and speeded the process of achieving economic and material well - being

Comprehensive agricultural development not only increased the effective supply of farm produce, but also substantially improved farmers' income. Per capita farmer's income in the project sites is 260 yuan higher than in non - project sites (500 to 600 yuan). The highest even reached 1 000 yuan. In this way the development goal of increasing production and income was achieved. Furthermore, the projects emphasized efficient grass roots social service organization and established varied economic entities and pioneer enterprises to enhance social service functions, improve the strength of the collective economy and promote development of relevant industries. The proposals made important contributions to absorbing large numbers of rural surplus labour, increasing farmers' income, further stabilizing the household responsibility contract system, perfecting combined and separated double track operation systems, speeding up the timeline toward being well - off and achieving this goal.

Achievements of cropland and water conservancy infrastructure in the Ninth Five - Year Plan

Irrigation areas were increased and pump irrigation and drainage was improved. Sixty - four million mu of irrigation area was added, with an annual increase of 12 million mu - the most rapid period since 1980. There was 820 million mu of effective irrigation area in 2000: 5 683 irrigation areas reached to 10 000 mu countrywide to a total irrigated area of 367 million mu - of which 402 are large irrigation areas covering 290 million mu. Irrigation pumping power capacity in China was developing steadily and rose to 74 million kW irrigating 553 million mu. Some 3.98 million pumping wells were dug covering 226 million mu of irrigation area. Efficient irrigation facilities, strengthened service functions and newly and largely increased irrigation areas enhanced the capacity of agriculture against drought, distinctly improved production conditions and promoted agricultural structure adjustment, increasing agricultural production and farmer income.

Existing irrigation facilities were transformed to water saving types. Some 115 million mu was covered by newly increased water saving engineering in the Ninth Five - Year Plan period which reached 250 million mu by late 2000. Meanwhile, 250 million mu adopted new scientific irrigation measures and water saving methods, such as the shallow/wet/basking method for paddy rice and irrigating the crop itself in the cultivated land instead of flooding irrigation along furrows and surface of the land. In order to support development of water saving irrigation, subsidy and interest discounted loans were offered by the government to encourage farmers to adopt water saving techniques and equipment.

Waterlogging and salinized cropland management. China has 367 million mu of waterlogged cropland. By the end of 2000, the primarily controlled area reached 314 million mu (85 percent), of which 182 million mu had one waterlogging incident in five years. Initially transformed salinized areas reached 88 million mu (76 percent).

Rural drinking water supply nearly resolved. The problem of drinking water supply for 51 million rural Chinese was resolved during the Ninth Five - Year Plan with 1.25 times more than in the Eighth Plan. Some 7 600 water supply engineering projects were built for towns and townships with a daily water supply capacity of 17 million tonnes and 70 million beneficiaries. Rural water supply development has improved water supply for the rural population, expedited poverty eradication and small town construction and promoted overall development of society and the rural economy.

State investment in agricultural water conservancy totalled 7.4 billion yuan in the Ninth Plan: Some 3.6 billion yuan was used for water saving engineering projects and 3.8 billion yuan was for human and animal drinking water. A further 23 billion yuan was spent on water conservancy construction in CAD projects (calculated in the investment).


Effective irrigation areas to indicate changes by different years


Effective irrigation area (10 000 ha)


Effective irrigation area (10 000 ha)

































Construction of production bases of grain and other farm produce

Since 1978, the household responsibility contract system was generally applied in rural China, greatly motivating the production enthusiasm of farmers. Grain production rapidly jumped to 350 and 400 billion kg from 300 billion kg. However, from 1985, fluctuations occurred. It was urgent to explore alternatives to further develop agriculture, to improve overall agricultural productivity and to increase the commodity rate of farm produce.

From 1983, the state invested 300 million yuan in pilot commodity grain base construction in 60 counties of 11 provinces with better grain production conditions, e.g. Heilongjiang, Jilin, Inner Mongolia, Hunan, Hubei and Jiangxi. This was the starting point of agricultural commodity base construction.

As pilot base construction was initiated during an important transition period of agricultural development, it was endowed with a development opportunity by China's history. A new way was found to further expand agricultural production.

By 2000, state investment amounted to 2.079 billion yuan for building 1 397 agricultural commodity bases: 1 212 million yuan for construction of 1 009 grain production base counties; 558 million yuan for 252 quality cotton production base counties; 175 million yuan for 77 sugar production base counties and 140 million yuan for 59 oil plant production base counties.

Through unremitting efforts in the 16 years, a remarkable achievement was made in building agricultural commodity base counties, which mainly embodied a gradual efficiency of agricultural infrastructure, distinct improvement of agricultural production conditions, resistance capacity greatly enhanced against natural disasters, gradually completed quality seed breeding and agricultural technical extension. The base construction strongly promoted the steady growth of major farm commodities such as grain, cotton, oil and sugar. The commodity rate was gradually raised. The established commodity grain base area accounted for 46 percent of total commodity grain areas sown nationwide, however, grain production took up 56 percent of the total. The commodity grain provided by the bases accounted for 65 percent of the total in China. The cotton base growing area and production was 70 percent and 80 percent respectively of China's total. The yield per mu was 5 kg higher than China's average. The sugar material base growing area and production was 32 percent and 38.6 percent of China's respective total. Sugar output was 42 percent of the total. In general, the production base counties became the key to agricultural production, with pioneering counties establishing “agriculture of high yield, high efficiency and high quality”, having stable production and demonstrating the technological vitality which increasingly played a larger role in operating the rural economy.

In 1993, owing to the importance attached to it by the Chinese Government, building agricultural commodity bases was included in the Chinese Law on Agriculture, setting a milestone of construction of agricultural commodity bases.

Inputs of chemical fertilizer and other agricultural production materials

In 1949, there was almost no chemical fertilizer use nationwide; only 78 000 tonnes of chemical fertilizer were applied in 1952. By 1978 it rose to 8.84 million tonnes at an annual increase of 30.9 percent. In the 1980s, chemical applications increased remarkably, reaching 41.46 million tonnes in 1998, 3.7 times higher compared than 1978.

FIGURE 4: Chemical fertilizer used (equivalent in active ingredients), 1952-2000 (10 000 tonnes)

In 2000, the total amount of pesticide used was some 1.28 million tonnes. The low toxic and high efficient pesticides applied had a further growth. Since 1980s, the use of plastic film in farming has developed rapidly; now, it is popular nationwide. Plastic film use in 2000 amounted to 1.33 million tonnes; compared with 0.482 million tonnes consumed in 1990, it increased by 1.8 times. In 1952, 1978 and 2000, the consumption of electricity in the rural areas was 50 million kWh, 25.31 billion kWh and 242.13 billion kWh respectively.


Since the late 1990s, agriculture and rural economy have had the following major developments:

Supply of farm produce: Farm produce has progressed from an overall shortage to a general balance with relative surpluses of structural and regional natures;

Growth pattern: Agricultural development has shifted from being labour intensive to capital and technology intensive;

Development target: Agricultural development has shifted from seeking maximum farm production to maximum returns from both domestic and overseas markets;

Income generation: Ways and means of farmers’ income generation have shifted from relying mainly on increased production and higher prices of farm produce, especially that of grains, to relying mainly on a diversified economy in agriculture and non - agriculture.

This shows that the development of agriculture and the rural economy has entered a new stage. Agriculture with higher returns and ecological development have been given top priority. The government has formulated important action plans to develop and protect water and land resources.

Comprehensive agricultural development (CAD) at a new stage

Direction of development

To meet requirements for developing agriculture and the rural economy at this new stage, the Second Joint Meeting on Comprehensive Development of National Agriculture was held in May 1999 and determined the following changes in CAD guidelines:

According to principles established at the Second Joint Meeting, the Office of Comprehensive Development of National Agriculture (OCDNA) made three adjustments to future CAD priorities:

Arrangement of development zones and focuses

Key state zones of comprehensive agroresources development with farmland as their focus include:

Key provincial zones of comprehensive agricultural resources development based on arable land:

This zone includes 19 development areas of the mid - and lower reaches of the Pearl river, the Fenhe and Weihe river valleys, Ningxia and Inner Mongolia irrigated areas, Hainan island, central and southern Guangxi, central Yunnan and Guizhou, the Hehuang area of Qinghai, the Yaluzhangbu Jiang river region, the Nujiang and Lanchangjiang rivers in Tibet, corridor areas of the Yellow river, the plains of Nanyang, Gangdi in north Hubei, Jinqu plain - Xiaoshouning area of Zhejiang, the northwest area of Fujian, hilly areas of central Jiangxi, the hilly areas of central Hunan, Panxi area, the northern Weihe river and eastern Gansu and the Yili - Taibei irrigated area of Xingjiang. These areas are dispersed in 531 counties of 20 provinces and autonomous regions: Sichuan, Guangdong, Guangxi, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Hainan, Yunnan, Guizhou, Qinghai, Tibet, Gansu, Jiangxi, Hunan, Hubei, Henan, Zhejiang, Fujian and Xingjian.

The development target is: (i) to improve low and medium yielding farm fields. The major types of existing low or medium yielding croplands are characterized by drought and short water supply, poor land and slope land. The emphasis of land improvement development is smaller areas and projects with potential for increased yields and basic conditions for implementing relevant regional improvement projects, (ii) to improve low yield water surfaces with a focus on suburbs of large and medium sized cities, (iii) the integrated exploitation, utilization and improvement of land focusing on integrated construction of farm fields, water, forests, roads and villages.

Key grassland resource development zones:

This region includes eight development zones in overlapping agriculture and animal husbandry areas of northeast China, e.g. the grasslands of northern Inner Mongolia, Ganzhi, Aba, southern Gansu, Qinghai Lake, Yili and Alietai. The region involves 113 counties in eight provinces and autonomous regions: Inner Mongolia, Liaoning, Jilin, Helongjiang, Sichuan, Gansu, Qinghai and Xingjiang. Usable natural grasslands cover 1.264 billion mu and 1.088 billion mu in animal husbandry and semi - animal husbandry areas (28.6 percent and 33.1 percent respectively).

Yili has the highest quality grass. Its high quality/high yielding and medium quality/high yielding grassland is over half its area. High quality/low yielding and high quality/medium yielding grassland comprise much of the overlapping areas of agriculture and animal husbandry in the northeast China and northern Inner - Mongolia grasslands (30.5 percent and 15.4 percent). Medium quality/medium yielding grassland takes a big share in the grasslands of Aba, Ganzhi and Gannan (36.1 percent). Medium quality/low yielding grassland is a large proportion of Qinghai Lake grassland (38.8 percent), followed by high quality/low yielding grassland (24.9 percent). Quality grass in Alietai is the poorest: low yielding grassland (42.4 percent), high quality/low yielding grassland (29.7 percent). The grazing capacity per unit area in Aba, Yili and Ganzhi is highest; the overlapping agriculture - animal husbandry area in northeast China and southern Gansu ranks second while the northern Inner Mongolia, Qinghai Lake and Alietai grasslands are poorest.

Major measures for development: are to improve pasturage and to develop high standard sown pasture in agricultural areas where soil and water conditions are rather good with easy access to transportation. Where conditions permit, grasses can be introduced into farm fields, a combination of agriculture and animal husbandry. It is to adopt the measures of “agriculture fosters animal husbandry” and “cattle fattening at different locations” to promote economic development of animal husbandry areas.

Key development zone of subtropical hills:

This region encompasses three development zones in hills south of the Yangtze River, the hills of Zhejiang and Fujian and the hills of Nanling. This region involves 285 counties in 8 provinces and autonomous regions: Hebei, Anhui, Zhejiang, Jiangxi, Hunan, Fujian, Guangdong and Guangxi. Total land area is about 602 000 km2. Within this region, hills comprise over 80 percent while forest covers 550 million mu. Only 20 million mu of land has been used while 50 million mu has potential for further development. There are abundant forest and fruit resources: it is an ideal growth zone for subtropical perennial forest and fruit and important production basis of tea, citrus, tung oil, fir and Mao bamboo.

Exploitation should be based on securing grain production and transforming slopes to fully use the resources of gentle slopes to engage in vertical development of tea, fruit, economic forest, fast growing forest and water and soil conservation forest, and to upgrade and transform low yielding poor orchards and gradually develop new orchards. It is to encourage the relocation fruit trees from fields where it is suitable for grain production to the slopes, in order to resolve the contradiction of land use by grain and by fruit. It is to actively develop pasture, and to improve the natural pasture in a coordinated way and step by step. It is to develop with great effort fast growing and high yielding forest in order to realize the strategic adjustment of lumber production to the southern part of the country and to alleviate the ecological and forest resource crisis in northeast, southwest of China and Qinghai - Tibet Plateau.

Coastal shoal development zone:

The region encompasses 184 coastal counties in 11 provinces and autonomous regions, namely, Liaoning, Hebei, Tianjing, Shangdong, Jiangsu, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi and Hainan. The total area of shoal is 53 million mu, of which 20 million mu is shoal above tide, the utilized and to - be - utilized areas are 40 percent and 60 percent respectively. The shoal located in the interval areas of tide is 33 million mu, and the utilized and to - be - utilized areas are 30 percent and 70 percent respectively.

The development of shoal should uphold the principle of “three combinations” of crop farming, animal raising (especially acquaculture) and protective forest system along the coastal line and to fully tap the advantages of resources. The key areas to be reclaimed are the coastal areas of northern Jiangsu Province, the gulf areas around Bohai sea, the delta area of the Yellow River, the southern coast of Qiangtangjiang River mouth, the delta area of Pearl River and the delta area of Liaohe River. The key areas to develop acquaculture in shallows are Liaodong peninsular, Shangdong Peninsular and Bohai Sea, the gulf of Zhejiang and Fujian and the coastal areas of Guangdong, Guangxi and Hainan. The construction of coastal protection forest will focus on the coastal lines of southeast and south China.

Tropical crop development zone:

In China, the tropical and the south of subtropical climate zone include 5 provinces and autonomous regions, namely, Hainan, Guangdong, Guangxi, Yunnan and Fujian, with 191 counties and a total land area of 460 000 km2, which is a treasure land for tropical crops that is not easy to have. The total acreage of tropical crops in China is over 11 million mu while the major crops are rubber, coffee, cocoa, coconut, palm, cashew nuts, spices, medical herbs, kenaf, pepper and cassava. Sugarcane is the major advantageous cash crop with acreage of 14 million mu accounting for 75 percent of the national total. The major tropical and subtropical fruits and economic forest are banana, pineapple, logan, lychee, citrus fruits and other tropical fruits unique to tropical areas.

The development of tropical crops should base on the domestic market while aiming at the international market, and focus of this endeavor is to develop those products that have considerably significant shortage of supply in the domestic market, that have comparatively high efficiency and that can yield high return of foreign currency. The coastal areas should take fully advantage of the economic and technological conditions and use high quality products to participate in the international competition. While in the hinterland, it is to focus on the construction of production basis and to develop those products that have a short supply in the domestic market, and when conditions permit, to actively participate in competition of the international market.

Key development zone of poverty alleviation and ecological improvement

This region includes four zones of the hilly and gullies areas of loess plateaus, Qinglin - Bashan mountains, Wulingshan mountains and the limestone mountains of southwestern China. This region encompasses 302 counties in 12 provinces, namely, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Ningxia, Gansu, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Sichuan, Chongqing, Guizhou, Yunnan and Guangxi. Among the 302 counties, 109 national poverty counties have been listed in the national “Eight - Seven” (using eight years to eradicate poverty over seven million population) Poverty Alleviation Programme.

These four areas suffer the gravest soil erosion in China. Erosion in the gully areas of the loess plateaus accounts for 80 percent of the total while the erosion scale is 2 000 - 20 000 tonne/km2 annually, and in some places, it reached 35 000 tonne/km2 yearly. In the Shanxi and Shaanxi sections of the eastern Losses Plateau, the density of gullies is usually 5 - 7 km/km2 while the gully area takes up 40 - 50 percent of the total area. In the Ningnan - Longzhong areas of the western loess plateau, the density of gullies is 2 - 5 km/km2, and gullies take up 30 - 40 percent of total area. In Qingling - Bashan mountains, arable land with slopes greater than 25 degrees comprise 40 percent of total arable land. In Shanglou of Shaanxi province, eroded soils comprise 80 percent of total land area while in southern Gansu, soil erosion accounts for 62 percent of total land. In Wulingshan mountain, soil erosion worsened 3 to 4 times than that of 50 years ago. Soil erosion in the limestone areas of southwestern China caused serious stone desertification (coverage of forest and grass less than 30 percent) accounting for one tenth of total land area. Semi stone desertification (forest, bush and grass coverage of 30 to 70 percent) accounts for 13 to 20 percent and in some places reaches 45 percent. The four zones are located in the upper and middle reaches of the Yellow and Yangtze rivers, so there is great strategic significance to strengthen water and soil conservation and river management.

The main tasks for the development and harness are as follows: actively carrying out the transformation of middle and low - yielding farmland with the emphasis on turning slop land into terrace in order to realize the goals of per capita basic farmland of one mu or more than half mu for high and stable - yielding land; conducting three - dimensional development for hilly area and develop diversified operation with forest and animal husbandry as well as economic forest as the priority areas; strengthening construction of shelter - forest and proactively carrying out the integrated control of small drainage area.


Due to the fact that our country suffers a serious shortage of cultivated land in terms of per capita, the per capita cultivated area in coastal areas has been lower than warning line of 0.8 mu set by FAO. Therefore, with respect to the protection of land resources, our Government has adopted even more severe measures. The main practices are as follows:

Specialized departments are established. In 1998, the Ministry of Land Resources was established to strengthen the management of state land resources with an emphasis on land resources protection.

Great attention has been attached to the policies. Since our country is in serious shortage of natural resources on average per capita basis, therefore our Government sets the principles like preciously and rationally use of land as well as truly protect of the cultivated land as the basic state strategies. All these have played an important role in the following aspects, namely: correctly handle the relationship between economic development, protection of cultivated land and ecological system, further strengthen the protection of land for agricultural purpose, especially protection of cultivated land, strictly control the total amount of land used for construction and optimize the land use structure, enhance the intensive use level of land resources, stabilize and increase grain productivity as well as guarantee the land use requirements for economic development.

Procedures for basic farmland protection should be strictly observed that balance on the total amount of cultivated area be maintained. By 2005, the projection that the total cultivated area in China will be not less than 128 million ha and total basic farmland area be not lower than 108.6 million ha can be guaranteed. The new mechanism to protect cultivated land should be in place and perfected. The guidance and constraint mechanism on the relationship between land supply and land demand should be established and the planned quota for diverting farmland is distributed in a rational manner, so as to increase the use of reserved land. During examination and approval of diverting farmland, the plan for making up land and the implementation of financial resources must be examined. Therefore, the regulation of making up another piece of land for occupying one piece of farmland should be rigorously observed and the establishment of cultivated land reserve system be explored in an active way. In accordance with the quota of total acreage defined in “Overall Planning on Land Use”, the responsible systems of leaders’ objective for protecting cultivated land at different levels should be set up and the policies of rewards and penalties in connection with the land protection and benefits carried out at various local government levels. It is our task to implement the regulations on readjusting the land benefits contained in the “Law on Land Administration”. The forecast and warning system for protecting cultivated land is requested to be set up and the social monitoring mechanism on land use and management is formed.

Land use for construction of key water conservancy, transportation and energy projects is to be guaranteed. At present, projects which have strong government support, such as water conservancy building for agriculture and forest, development of transportation and communication, urban infrastructure construction, improvement of electric network in urban and rural areas, economical housing construction and ecological development. The land use requirements for all of that shall be guaranteed. General construction projects should make full use of the preserved land for construction purpose and idle land. It is to strictly carry out the state industry policies, such as: “Catalogue on the Ban of Land Supply” and “Catalogue on the Constraints of Land Supply”. The standard system on land use for construction projects will be gradually perfected and implemented in order to avoid duplicated construction at low level. Pre - examination of land use for construction projects should be well conducted and the principle of guiding the construction projects for not occupying or occupying less cultivated land be promoted.

The reform and improvement of the land use system in urban and peri - urban areas shall be promoted so as to push forward the urbanization progress. An overall plan for construction by stages will promote and accelerate the transformation of old cities. Through readjustment of land use structures and by making full use of existing available land, the circumstance of low efficientcy in the use of land in urban and peri - urban areas can be changed. It is to carry out well the management of land use for construction in small cities and towns and rigorously control the occupation of farmland and forestland for construction purpose in villages and townships. Under the precondition of protecting cultivated land and ensuring the legitimate rights of farmers, a rational solution to the issue of land use in cities and towns is to be found. Rural residents will be guided to move to the central areas of villages and townships, while township enterprises are encouraged to locate themselves to the small industry areas. It is to promote the integrated system for villages. And, the management on the combined development of cities and townships as well as the land use for the development districts should be strengthened.

The advantages of regional resources are to be brought into full play and land use structure and pattern readjusted in a rational manner. In accordance with the different land requirements for industrial areas, highly concentrated areas for cities and towns, specialized farm products bases and ecological protection areas, it is requested to rationally readjust the land use structure and pattern. By strengthening the guidance and monitoring management on land use for agricultural production structure readjustment, it is to form the mechanism on readjustment and utilization of agricultural land in a reasonable and orderly way, so that the destruction on cultivated land can be avoided. The areas for over cultivation and inning should be returned into forest, grass and lakes in a planned way. The cultivation in slope areas along big rivers and other fragile ecological areas should be totally and quickly returned. It is to actively carry out the sand prevention and control measures.

In future, an annual investment of about 200 million yuan will be used for monitoring land resource changes, land leveling and preparation as well as resumption of cultivation.


Agriculture and rural economy in our country have stepped into a new development period. To ensure the state food security, increase tangibly the farmers’ income, enhance the efficiency and benefits of the utilization of water and land resources and intensify the sustaining - strength of agricultural sustainable development are the main objectives and tasks for the agricultural development in the new stage. However, the present situation of cultivated land quality, scientific fertilization technology and the level of infrastructure facilities as well as the establishment of laws and regulations are far more inadequate in terms of pushing forward the agricultural production and development. The main constraints are: firstly, the serious imbalance between the use and maintenance of cultivated land, which results in the obvious decline of soil fertility; the average content of organic matter in soil of cultivated land across the country is only 1.8 percent, while that of organic matter in dry land soil is only 1 percent. In the fragile ecological areas of the west and northeast, soil fertility decline is even worse; secondly, the input benefit of fertilizer has not been raised dramatically. Total fertilizer volume in China ranks first worldwide. However, due to the irrational structure of varieties and big difference in fertilization in different regions, the utilization rate of fertilizer during the season is always staggering at around 30 percent, which has big difference in compare with the world advanced level. The issue of waste is also serious; thirdly, due to the fact that farm land and water environment are severely polluted, the difficulty of raising agricultural products’ quality is becoming bigger.

For the above reasons, the country, therefore, decided to carry out the Fertile Soil Programme. The main objectives are to comprehensively strengthen the building of cultivated land quality and increase soil fertility; optimize fertilization pattern in order to enhance the utilization rate of fertilizer; integrated use of waste resources and improve the farm land environment; equip with soil and fertilizer analysis facilities and improve the socialized service system.

Guiding principles and objectives

Guiding principles

The principles of overall planning, emphasis on key and pilot projects and steadily extension are to be carried out. With a view to the problems of cultivated land utilization and fertilizer application in our country, efforts shall be made in order to realize the following directions: by optimizing allocation and rationally utilizing of soil and fertilizer resources, through the means of the progress of science and technology and innovation, with the realization of technology commercialization and socialized service as the effective way, and by strengthening the cultivated land quality, extending balanced fertilization and enhancing the facilities’ level of basic equipment for soil and fertilizer, an integrated service system for soil testing and formula, compound fertilizer, supply and application of fertilizer will be gradually set up. An overall plan for the utilization benefit of cultivated land quality and fertilizer application as well as the enhancement of agricultural product production and its quality can be realized, so as to promote the sustainable agricultural development.


The first object is to realize ‘two transfers’ for the utilization model of soil and fertilizer resources. Cultivated land resources will be transferred from extensive operation into intensive operation of high efficient development, utilization and fertilizer accumulation. Utilization of fertilizer will be shifted from low effectiveness modal to high effective and accurate modal. The second object is to realize ‘four enhancements’ for the effect of soil and fertilizer utilization, namely, soil fertility will be increased by one grade, utilization rate of fertilizer by 10 percent productivity of grain by one grade and the share of soil and fertilizer in the contribution to the agricultural production by 10 percent. The third object is to adopt ‘four measures’ for soil and fertilizer, namely, the network of information monitoring and processing on soil, fertilizer and soil moisture, scientific formula of fertilizer, specialized formula fertilizer production and the whole process of technical service.

Priority tasks

The implementation of “Fertile Soil Programme” places its emphasis on the strengthening of cultivated land quality building, extension of balanced fertilization technology, basic facilities for analyzing soil and fertilizer and the role of state project demonstration.

Cultivated land quality building.

First, the input of organic fertilizer should be increased. The emphasis will be on organic accumulation, production and basic facilities establishment, in order to push forward the specialization, commercialization and mechanization production of organic fertilizer. Second, the level of scientific fertilization should be enhanced and the rate of fertilizer utilization increased. The key is to combine the organic and inorganic fertilizer together, guide the fertilization through testing soil and providing formula, extension of new variety of fertilizer and deep placement of fertilizer. Third, efforts shall be made to improve the middle and low - yielding farmland, reform tillage system, transform the slope land and build high standard of farmland. As for the transformation for the most difficult middle and low - yielding farm land, the overall ability of the cultivated land for degradation resistance and production level can be raised through the building of permanent farm works and integrated control as well as increasing the capacity of soil for preserving moisture and fertility. Fourth, soil degradation and farmland pollution should be prevented. The priority work is to conduct the soil fertility testing and monitoring, intensify the management of pollution for the farm land, collect and reuse the plastic film residue, make good use of human and animal wastes and stalk resources in order to protect ecological environment in agriculture.

Extension and application of technology of balanced fertilization.

To do this, first, a nutrition investigation on arable land is required to indicate the quality of our arable land and primary productivity of the soil, which will be in service for soil improvement, fertilizer cultivation, returning the farm land to forest and grassland and soil degradation management, especially for the extension of balanced fertilization technology. Secondly, more effort needs to be given to promote a comprehensive social service system in terms of technology and materials, in which strengthening management for special fertilizer is a major task. This requires us to provide fertilizer varieties needed in agricultural production in due course and places through fertilizer distribution stations (plants) as well as to offer good after - sale service, such as technical guidance on fertilizer application. Thirdly, establishing a number of key demonstration zones for balanced fertilization technology helps us promote and extend this technology vigorously and make better perform out of fertilization model plots areas.

Preliminary conditions for soil and fertilizer development.

The key parts are “two systems and one comprehensive demonstration base” - National Network System for Soil Chemical Content Monitoring and Information Management, National Trial System for New Varieties of Fertilizer and New Technology for Soil & Fertilizer Development, and a comprehensive demonstration base for national “Fertile Soil” Project.

This project needs to be treated as follows: In region’s distribution, based on different laws of soil distribution, climate features and cropping and application patterns, the guidance given under this project should be varied in different categories and regions determined by the project construction plan. In terms of processing, it needs to be carried out in a way of trial base first, breakthrough in key parts second, and comprehensive promotion last. An estimated 100 million RMB of investment will be made for this project in the next 5 years.


Objectives of the Tenth Five - Year Plan

Water - saving is the focus in agricultural water conservancy in the Tenth - Five - Year Plan. With the aim to assist readjustment in agricultural structure and increase farmer’s income, more work needs to be done in innovation and reform of current water facility technology and agricultural water management system as well as operational mechanism to increase utilization efficiency on agricultural water, to improve rural service function for water conservancy, and to push agricultural water conservancy development forward into a new stage.

Main tasks

The first is to increase land area of water - saving irrigation by 100 million mu to 350 million mu nationwide, to make a further reduction of 16 m3/mu in national average water consumption per unit in accordance with the Ninth Five - Year Plan and to cut down water consumption on land with agricultural production value of 10 000 RMB by 450 m3. The second is to increase the new irrigated area by 30 million mu so as to make the total irrigated area reach 850 million mu nationwide. The third is to complete transformation of water - saving facilities with the focus on water efficiency in large irrigation areas. About half of those areas will be enabled to be fully equipped with water - saving facilities and to benefit from water - saving farming, production increase and efficiency improvement. The fourth is to transform 50 million mu of waterlogging - prone, saline and alkaline land and to take control of waterlogging frequency to as low as once per five years in most areas vulnerable to waterlogging. The fifth is to build a total of 13 million of water cellars, pools and water tanks to ensure water supply for average farming land per capita (0.5 mu) in case of drought in western regions. The sixth is to basically solve the drinking problem for 24 million people, which is not addressed successfully in the Poverty Alleviation Programme (the programme involves the plan to make 80 million people get rid of poverty by using 7 years). The seventh is to increase water supply capacity for villages and towns by 35 million tonnes/day and enable 75 percent villages and towns to use supplied water through newly - built and transformed water supply facilities in those areas. The eighth is to expand irrigation area of fodder grass, cultivated pasture and natural grassland by 5 million mu, and to establish a number of water - conserving demonstration projects in pastoral areas.


Eco - environment is an important factor for human existence and development as well as the foundation for economic and social development. In order to restore and protect our eco - environment, according to actual condition of our eco - environment, the central government formally issued the “National Plan for Eco - environment Building” in November 1998. As a long - term plan of 50 years, it indicates the tasks and objectives for eco - environment building campaign in three different stages. This is the most comprehensive plan ever issued by the State Council in terms of eco - environment building with the longest enforcing period. This plan is of great significance in terms of trees & grass planting, soil erosion management, desertification prevention, natural forests & grassland protection and eco - agricultural development. This is a substantial readjustment in the strategy of our modernization drive, and an actual act to carry out relevant international agreements.

It is stated in the plan that China’s eco - environment building will experience three stages - short -, middle - and long - term. The respective goals in these stages are:

Short - term goals

That is to use 10 years (2001 - 2010) to take control of man - made factors to avoid newly - emerged soil and water erosion and to restrain desertification. The specific objectives are: by 2010, to make an extra area of 600 000 km2 affected by soil and water erosion get controlled; to improve desertified land of 2 200 ha, and to increase the percentage of forest cover to above 19 percent (measured at above 0.2 in canopy density), to transform sloping land of 6.7 million has and to returning farming land of 5 million ha to forest; to develop farming land with high standard and forest network of 13 million ha; to grow a total of 50 million ha of newly cultivated and improved grassland; to establish a number of water - saving, dryland farming and ecological agricultural projects; to improve inhabiting environment for wildlife and plants and to make natural reserves take up 8 percent of the total territory. A preventive monitoring and protection system in key eco - environmental zones will be established.

Mid - term goals

After eco - environment deterioration gets contained, this goal requires us to try every effort to make a substantial improvement on national eco - environment within 20 years (2011 - 2030). The major objectives during this period are: to bring above 60 percent of manageable land with problem of soil and water erosion under control in different grades and to make a remarkable progress in the key areas of soil and water erosion treatment, such as the upper and middle reaches of Yellow River and Yangtze River; to improve desertification area of 40 million ha; to increase forest area by 46 million ha and to make the percentage of forest cover as high as above 24 percent; to make natural reserves of different categories account for 12 percent of the total territory; to ensure popularization of the technologies for dry - land water - saving farming and eco - agriculture; to realize 80 million ha of newly cultivated and improved grassland and to restore about half of grassland affected by degradation, desertification, and alkalization. The eco - environment in the key treatment zone will be on the track of benign circle.

Long - term goals

That is to use another 20 years (2031 - 2050) to establish a benign ecosystem to basically meet the demand of sustainable development. Its major objectives are: to ensure primary treatment of all manageable areas affected by soil and water erosion, afforestation on all land appropriate for commercial forestry, a rational mix of woods and trees varieties and a percentage of national forest cover of over 26 percent; to transform most sloping land to terraces; and to realize overall restoration of grassland affected by degradation, desertification and alkalization. The national eco - environment will see an obvious improvement and beautiful mountains and rivers will appear in most regions.

In the Ninth Five - Year Plan, the central government invested 34 billion RMB in infrastructure construction for eco - environment, nine times more than the 3.65 billion RMB applied in the Eighth Plan. It is estimated that the financial investment made in the Tenth Plan will be no less than that in the Ninth Plan.


Although a new period begins when the current global economy is under dual restrictions from both resources and markets, the resource economy is still playing a decisive role. Under the consistent strategy of sustainable development, it is important to be fully aware of our actual condition and potentials of agricultural resources and the evolution of agricultural eco - environment and to transform the resource advantage to economic and market advantages, which will be very much significant to increase farmer’s income, promote sustainable agricultural development and ensure the food security nationwide.

We will intensify the effort in the development and protection of agricultural resources continuously in the days to come. Meanwhile, foreign investors are welcome to take part in our ecosystem construction and resources exploitation, especially in the development of western regions.

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