Trends in rice-wheat area in China
This paper provides new estimates of area planted to the rice (Oryza sativa L.)–wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) rotation in China by combining the results obtained from two methodologies. One methodology uses official statistics at the province-level for sown area of rice and wheat, which allows construction of annual estimates from 1979 to 2001. The other methodology uses remote sensing data and county level Agricultural Census data on sown area of 17 major crops, which allows for construction of one estimate appropriate for the middle of the 1990s. The first methodology suggests that the area planted to the rice–wheat rotation has declined sharply in recent years. A combination of the two methodologies results in an estimate of rice–wheat area in China in 2001 of 3.4 Mha. This is substantially below other figures in the literature that reach as high as 13 Mha. This estimate, and the reasons for its declining trend over time, is important for setting priorities in crop research and for understanding how farmers might react to possible new productivity-enhancing technologies.
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