Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page

Chapter 7

Policy advocacy for EET of agricultural and rural development planners and local leaders in China

Dr Xiaoyun Li
Ms Zhibin Lin
Ms Yihuan Wang
Ms Libin Wang
Centre for Integrated Agricultural Development (CIAD)
China Agricultural University
Beijing, China


With a population of 1.2 billion (accounting for a quarter of the world's population) and occupying only 7 percent of the world's arable land, the Chinese Government has for the past three decades adopted high input yield-increasing production technologies from the West to complement its traditional low input organic production technologies and practices. Major reforms were made after 1978 to cope with the increased food demand of the people. China's grain production increased by about 3.5 times during the 1949-1989 period although there was a drastic drop (30 percent) during the "great leap forward" period due to shortcomings in the production policy. The rate of agricultural productivity increases was particularly dramatic between 1978-1984 due to greater production and price incentives arising from the "household responsibility system."

Inevitably, the higher the yields the more difficult it is to resist pressure on new natural resources, such as draining wetlands, clearing forests and encroaching on natural habitats. Therefore, the success of the Chinese agricultural sector definitely had its environmental trade-offs, including vegetation destruction, water pollution, soil erosion and water resources depletion in many of its provinces. Due to these potential instabilities and the ecological consequences of some practices, Chinese scientists and researchers are in search of a more sustainable agricultural development model and an ecological system of agriculture as a strategy for China's agricultural development. An ecological system of agriculture takes into account not only the economics of production but also the sustainability of society and the environment.

Although the Chinese Government currently pays more attention to environment conservation than before, training on environment-related issues has seldom been integrated into existing extension and training programmes. Agricultural extension in China is a typical top-down system, meaning that agricultural extension programmes, planning and implementation are directed from the national level to the lower grassroots levels. The agency responsible for agricultural extension at the national level is the National Agro-Technological Extension Centre (NATEC) in the MOA. NATEC is made up of four main divisions; agricultural extension, plant protection, soil and fertilizer, and seeds supply. Both provincial and county level have a similar institutional set up, i.e. there are provincial agro-technological extension centers (PATECs) under the bureaus of agriculture. At township level, there are township technology stations responsible for extension activities.

Agricultural education and training in China are organized at different levels, including the following: (a) higher agricultural education; (b) professional agricultural education; (c) primary agricultural education; (d) distance education in agriculture; (e) other agriculture-related training courses. The training contents in these programmes cover mainly technical agricultural subjects including crop production, plant protection, soil, animal husbandry, veterinary science, etc.

EET in China is mainly taken at the higher education level and therefore does not directly serve the agricultural officials who work in resource management or make decisions regarding environment conservation. Agricultural officials and extension agents usually have more opportunities to take part in vocational training and short period training courses. Therefore, the introduction of environment issues into the existing short term training programme is the more viable option whereby the relevant field personnel can be involved.

1.1 Environment and agricultural development challenges

Natural resources and environment are the primary prerequisites for agricultural development. China now faces the great challenge to overcome natural resources degradation and environment deterioration which directly affect agricultural production. The average arable land per capita in China is only 0.1 hectare and even such limited land area is under threat due to deforestation, sand encroachment and natural disasters. It is estimated that about one third of the arable land of the country is threatened by soil erosion, sand encroachment and salination. The reduction in grain production caused by natural disaster is estimated at 20 billion kg per year (according to pre-1994 statistics).

Human activities have directly affected the natural environment and some have worsened the fragile environmental situation. Overgrazing and deforestation have been very serious problems causing sand encroachment in northwestern and northern parts of China. Deforestation for land reclamation and firewood collection caused serious soil erosion in southwestern and southern parts of the country. The indiscriminate and inappropriate applications of pesticides and chemical fertilizers have caused very serious soil, water and air pollution in many parts of China. If effective counter-measures are not taken, these environmental problems will further decrease agricultural production and directly affect the quality of life in the country.

Although the government has focused more attention on environment-related policies and programmes and some direct investment has been made to improve the environment situation, vocational training programmes to cover environment-related issues for government officials have not been equally emphasized.

1.2 The institutional framework and training mandate

Two institutes, the CIAD and Central Agricultural Managerial Official College (CAMOC) are involved in the implementation of this FAO-supported EETM development project. CIAD, which initiated this project, is a non-profit, autonomous and action-oriented institution for development. Since its establishment in 1988, CIAD has developed a broad scope of functions, such as research, training and other consultative activities. Currently, CIAD employs 30 staff members, of which 25 are trained and experienced professionals who worked actively in the areas of research, training and consulting services. Training is part of CIAD's action-oriented development activities and is used as the major instrument to build its human resource capacity and change its development approaches.

Research and consulting experiences gained by CIAD enabled its training activities to be more appropriate and applicable to current situations. In this respect, CIAD has enriched its training experiences by undertaking many international and national training activities, including the TOT participatory training for community development, etc. In this EETM development project, the professional staff involved used their knowledge on the significance and implication of environment protection gained from their rural experiences. Their major role is to facilitate the process of EETM development by applying their knowledge and skills of participatory training approaches, curriculum development, etc.

CAMOC has been identified as the partner institution to implement the project. Established in 1983, with its headquarters in Beijing, CAMOC is a specialized training centre for senior-level agricultural officials and is under the direct administration of the MOA. It has a well-established institutional set-up with 16 branches across China. Its major tasks include vocational and on-the-job training for agricultural officials and technicians from various provinces, prefectures and counties and vocational training for public servants involved in agricultural development activities. CAMOC therefore plays a dominant role in providing training for agricultural officials in various fields in agriculture. However, training in environment-related issues has not yet been introduced in CAMOC's existing training programme.


As a development institution with vast experience in rural areas, CIAD has a strong commitment to improve direct links between the environment and agricultural development. The severe rural industrial pollution which occurred in both relatively developed and underdeveloped regions of China has endangered the quality of rivers, soil, crops and human health. The severe soil erosion caused by deforestation in the southwestern region is depleting the natural resources from the extremely poor population there and the severity of wind erosion caused by over-grazing and deforestation in the northwestern region is threatening the sustainability of grassland and agricultural development. All these environmental problems can only be resolved by developing a proper policy framework and implementing appropriate approaches.

Although the Chinese Government had made its commitment in the 1992 UNCED, key issues such as basic awareness, appropriate policy guidelines and action plans on the environment are still lacking at various levels in the government agencies. In this regard, CIAD believes that appropriate guidelines and well-designed EET programmes are the most effective instruments for such policy advocacy. Hence, during the FAO-sponsored EETM regional workshop held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in June 1994, CIAD submitted a project proposal to SDRE and requested technical assistance to develop an EETM to train management-level agricultural officials in China. The main objective of this EETM is to develop awareness and concern for the environment among these officials.

The development of a partnership with FAO and other participating institutions in the FAO-sponsored EET network has certainly provided opportunities for technical back-up and political advocacy. The two key agencies in China, CAMOC and CIAD, are well suited to undertake these roles. CAMOC has strong political and institutional support and plays a dominant role in the training of high-level agricultural officials in various fields in agriculture although environment-related training has not yet been introduced into its existing training programme. CIAD, which has the professional capabilities, can effectively integrate this new mandate in its existing institutional set-up since it has the technical service and expertise. Hence, it can play the management role and provide technical advice to facilitate and monitor the processes and activities of implementing this project. Such a partnership not only saves investment costs to support a new institutional set-up but also mobilizes existing resources for optimum utilization.

The personnel responsible for the implementation of this project are listed in the following Table 1:

Table 1: EETM development project personnel, China
Goals and objectives

The overall goals of the EETM development project are:

The specific objectives of the EET development project are:

Target beneficiaries

There are two levels of target beneficiaries for this EETM development project:

Primary target beneficiaries:

The staff of CAMOC is the primary target beneficiary. CAMOC has a well-established institutional set-up and its training staff is expected to offer high quality, appropriately oriented and relevant training courses. The development of this EETM meets the needs of CAMOC's new mandate to introduce environment education into its training agenda. In addition, the adult-oriented participatory training approach/strategy which is incorporated in the EETM also helps improve CAMOC's training methodology. The key staff from CAMOC who were involved in the process of EETM development are the trainers who are qualified to conduct EET in the future. The involvement of these key personnel from CAMOC in the EETM development process has been a training/learning experience for them.

Secondary target beneficiaries:

The managerial-level agricultural officials and agricultural extension workers who are the participants and trainees of CAMOC'S training programmes are the secondary target beneficiaries of the EET programme.


Since the inception of this project, eight training courses which focused on EET and/or integrated EETM into other programmes have been organized and conducted. These courses were attended by a total of 335 participants who were selected from about 20 provinces across China. The status of these trainees ranged from the national, provincial, municipal, county to township level personnel. On completion of these EET courses some participants expressed their high appreciation for the programme. They expressed the need to pay more attention to the environment and understood better the meaning as well as the significance of environment protection. They were also concerned to know the basic regulations and resources about the environment so that they could formulate proper guidelines for environment protection.

Most of the officials who had been trained in the EET programme were able to acquire sufficient knowledge about the basic concepts and relationships of environment concerns. This enabled them to prepare more concrete policy guidelines on the environment. This training has already shown its impact in reversing some of the officials' beliefs that economic growth is more important than preventing environmental degradation. In fact, many of them now realize the significance of the harmonious relationship between economic development and environment protection. As the participants' level of awareness about the environment increases, direct policy impact can be expected in the future.

The direct contribution of the EETM development project to CAMOC is that it had help to initiate the implementation of EET activities in CAMOC's training programme which previously had no EET component. Even more important, the integration of EET into CAMOC's training programme is foreseen to be sustainable. Based on the training plans prepared by the CAMOC branches, many of their training courses will integrate the EETM into their training/curriculum contents.

Another important contribution of the project to CAMOC and its staff is the introduction of the participatory approach in training. The implementation of this approach has improved the training quality of the trainers as they need to be better qualified and communicate more effectively with their trainees. Thus, trainers should not only be more knowledgeable about the environment but also possess effective communication skills and teaching methods. These requirements will greatly improve the quality of CAMOC's training programmes and activities. The EETM development project therefore not only contributed to the integration of EET into CAMOC's training programme but it also helped improve the trainers' approaches/methods of conducting their training activities.


4.1 Participatory process and methods in developing environment training curriculum

There are six key activities in the process of developing the EETM for China. All these activities are implemented on a participatory basis and are summarized in Table 2: "Summary of key activities of EETM development in China". They are also described as follows:

Activity 1: Translation of EETM

This activity requires the translation of the Indonesian EETM, Training module on environment conservation from English to Chinese. This module was developed by the AAET, MOA, Indonesia and used by FAO as an illustration for formulating the basic structures and format for the development of the EETM for China.

Activity 2: Workshop on the introduction of the EETM in China

Table 2: Summary of key activities of EETM development in China

In order to obtain direct feedback from the intended secondary target beneficiaries, the CAC of the project, Prof Dr Li Xiaoyun conducted a workshop in CAMOC. The participants at this workshop included 15 municipal and prefectural officials who were also participating in another training programme on "Advanced training on agricultural economic development" organized by CAMOC. The Director of CAMOC, Prof Mao Daru and Ms Zheng Li also participated. This was the first time that environment issues were introduced in the training programme for the managerial-level agricultural officials.

In the workshop discussions, Prof Li raised several issues concerning the environment and rural development and allowed an open discussion on the necessity of including environment education in the training system for managerial-level agricultural officials. Several of the participants also gave concrete examples that without environment protection there would be no sustainable agricultural and rural development. Most of the participants agreed that educating the decision-makers should be the first step so that these higher level officials would advocate the inclusion of environment issues in development programmes and be influenced in the decision-making process. The outcomes of this workshop helped to convince the leaders of CAMOC to participate and undertake the EETM development project for China.

At the conclusion of this workshop, the key personnel who would be involved in the EETM development for China were identified and listed as in Table 1.

Activity 3: Workshop on EETM development

There were 11 participants from four agricultural universities. These universities represented the northeast, northwest and southern parts of China as well as the national level university, the China Agricultural University (CAU). There were two categories of participants in the workshop: environment specialists and master trainers from various branches of CAMOC. All these participants were professionals and had many years of work experience in the field. It was envisaged that their work experience would enable them to make a proper assessment of the necessity to include EET in the training programmes for senior-level staff. At the beginning of the workshop, the participants reached a consensus that the workshop discussion should not focus on "why" environment education should be integrated into the officials-level training but also on the "what and how" to integrate.

When the workshop discussion focused on the "what and how" aspects, there were several heated discussions about the structure of the Indonesian EETM model. Some of the participants initially felt that the model was too simple, almost like a primary school textbook. Eventually, after they had studied it more thoroughly, they understood why the training module had adopted such a structure and format. The participants then reached the consensus that the intended target beneficiaries should not be students or environment science specialists but senior-level agricultural officials who needed to understand the basic concepts and scientific terms on environment. The training objective of the EETM was therefore to influence officials' decision-making processes. The EETM for China therefore adopted the basic structure and format of the Indonesian EETM as it believed that the training approaches used in the Indonesian EETM would be able to provide opportunities for participatory discussions. Only the contents of the module had to be modified.

This workshop used various approaches to facilitate the participation of the group and audio-visual support materials and training methods such as the flipchart, white board, group discussion and plenary sessions were used. The main contents for each chapter of the module was discussed and decided during the plenary session. This was then followed by two to three separate group discussions on the details including titles, subtitles and content outline for each chapter. Finally, the detailed contents for each chapter and for the whole module were decided in the final plenary session.

At the beginning of the workshop, the concept of participatory training was introduced and explained by the resource person from CIAD. The lecture method had been the dominant approach used in training in China, even in the case of adult training. As the EETM to be developed would take into account the trainees' knowledge and motivation, various training approaches beside the lecture method were to be adopted. Towards the end of the workshop, most of the participants were able to grasp the meaning of "participatory training approach" as the workshop resource persons actually demonstrated this approach during the session. Some of the participants also felt that the workshop was actually a "training of trainers" exercise, which was what CIAD had intended it to be. The workshop participants agreed that the four universities jointly set up an EETM group which would be responsible for the EET curriculum development activities.

Activity 4: Modification of the EETM based on the agreed structure

After the workshop, each of the university's assigned representatives undertook the task of writing their part of the module. In the process of collecting secondary information to write the module, the sub-curriculum development group of each university also carried out a needs assessment of the secondary target beneficiaries. The basic questions raised in the needs assessment focused on the necessity of having environment education and what to expect in an environment training programme. The results of this assessment indicated that over 90 percent of the respondents felt the necessity for environment education and that environment education should deal with very basic concepts and relationships and case studies of environmental problems.

Activity 5: Editing the module

The EETM editing team consisted of three professors: Prof Dr Li Xiaoyun (CIAD), Prof Mao Daru (CAMOC) and Prof Shen Dezhong (CAU). The responsibilities of these editors were to ensure the accuracy/correctness of the basic concepts and terms used, appropriate emphasis given to various parts or aspects of environmental issues are reflected in the module and the proper presentation of the text and contents in the module.

Activity 6: Technical review meeting

During this meeting, the EETM sub-group from each university selected one trainer to present and demonstrate how the EETM was to be used. In some cases, the sub-groups simulated the training process (in a micro teaching session) based on the methods and procedure indicated in the EETM. A plenary discussion was followed after each presentation. At the conclusion of the meeting, the third draft of the prototype EETM for China was prepared. The final version of the EETM was produced based on this third draft. A summarized English version was also prepared and submitted to FAO.

In addition to the above, this meeting accomplished another output, the TOTs which was also conducted during the meeting. The participatory training approach was used in this process whereby the following aspects were emphasized: (a) differences between adult training and formal education; (b) qualifications/requirements of a qualified trainer; (c) training support materials and equipment which can be used to facilitate the training/learning processes.

4.2 The training module

Structure of the EETM for China

It is to be noted that each of the units in the module contains a trainer's guide and a participants' training guide.

The trainer's guide consists of:

  1. delivery guide
  2. questions and answers for pretest
  3. questions and answers for end evaluation
  4. training aids

The participants' training guide consists of:

  1. introduction
  2. pretest
  3. job assignment sheet
  4. training progress sheet
  5. end evaluation
  6. information sheet (relating, supporting and case study)
  7. references

Contents of the module:

The EETM China contains the following units, skills element (SE), and activities (Act.):

Unit 1: Environment and environment conservation

SE 01: Identification of environment components

Act. 01: Definition of the environment:

  1. definition
  2. components
  3. definition in the environment law in China

Act. 02: Human beings and environment:

  1. Soil
    1. definition
    2. soil resource (characteristics)
  2. Water
    1. water resources
    2. hydrology cycle
  3. Air
    1. air composition
    2. relation to the human beings
  4. Human beings
    1. population (population capacity, social problems caused by population growth);
    2. influences of human activities on the environment;
    3. sustainable development (population, environment, food and development).

Act. 03: Environment, resources and ecology:

  1. classification of resources and resource utilization and conservation;
  2. interaction of resource and environment;
  3. ecological balance and conservation;
  4. influence of industrial and urban wastes on ecological system;
  5. stability of ecological system and bio-diversity;
  6. human beings and nature.

Act. 04: Population problems

SE 02: Identification of problems in environment conservation

Act. 01: Awareness of environment problems

Act. 02: Identification of the environment problems

Act. 03: Environment problems:

  1. water - lack of water resources, water pollution, drought and flood;
  2. soil - poor fertility, degradation (desertification, salination,
  3. sand encroachment), erosion, pollution, and decline of arable land;
  4. air - greenhouse effect, acid rain, destruction of the ozonosphere and ash pollution;
  5. decline of yield and quality of agricultural products;
  6. socio-economic consequences;
  7. health.

SE 03: Environment conservation

Act. 01: Technical measures:

  1. pollution control:
    1. water-oxidation pool, soil treatment
    2. air-bio method
    3. solid wastes-drops, stocks, rubbish and mud
  2. natural resource conservation:
    1. soil resource conservation - decline of arable land, erosion, degradation, abandoned land engineering, chemical and bio-methods;
    2. bio-diversity;
    3. control the use of chemical fertilizer.
  3. ecology of agriculture

Act. 02: Environment conservation management:

  1. environment conservation-basic policies and laws
  2. policies:
    1. prevention
    2. responsibility
    3. economic development with environmental sustainable development
    4. regulations
    5. responsibility system
  3. education

Unit 2: Environment conservation planning

SE 04: Environment conservation planning

Act. 01: Definition

Act. 02: Steps in environment conservation planning:

  1. investigation
  2. problem identification
  3. objective identification
  4. methods

SE 05: Evaluation of environment conservation planning

Act. 01: Objectives

Act. 02: Steps

Act. 03: Evaluation areas

Table 3: Implementation of EET in CAMOC branch of Shenyang

Table 4: Implementation of EET in CAMOC Branch of Nanjing Agricultural University

4.3 Training implementation

The following tables 3 to 6 list the EET implementation activities in CAMOC branches.

In reviewing the above training courses, there are two categories of EET activities: (a) courses which are specially focused only on environment education; (b) courses which integrate EET as part of an established training programme. The second category accounts for the majority of the training courses. Both these categories of training, however, utilized the prototype EETM developed for China as core materials for training. The first category of training utilized this prototype EETM extensively and basically followed the structure, contents and procedure in the module except for local adaptations. In the second category, however, the contents of the module and duration of the training had to be reorganized.


The importance of institutionalizing EET had been realized from the inception of the project by the project management group. Only with the appropriate institutionalization of EET in a regular training programme can such training be sustainable. The incorporation of this new idea into an existing training system is one approach to institutionalization. This approach not only save resources but could also obtain political support. The prerequisite for the feasibility of such incorporation depended on whether the existing system had a demand for such training. The training of agricultural officials on environment issues is one of the priorities set by the Chinese Government. CAMOC, which is under the direct administration of the MOA, is the key institution for training agricultural officials in the country. It has the financial budget from government, human resources and an official mandate to support its training programme and activities. CAMOC therefore would be able to mobilize its own resources to continue sustaining such a project initiated by an external agency.

Table 5: Implementation of EET in CAMOC Branch of Huazhong
Agricultural University

Table 6: Implementation of EET in CAMOC Branch of China
Agricultural University

The processes of institutionalization of the EET programme in China should focus on the following three key aspects: