FAO in China

China at a glance


The People’s Republic of China is located in the eastern part of the Asian continent, on the western of the Pacific Ocean. It is a vast land, covering 9.6 million square kilometers. Additional offshore territory, including territorial waters, special economic areas, and the continental shelf, totals over 3 million square kilometers, bringing China’s overall territory to almost 13 million square kilometers.


China is a unified nation consisting of many different ethnic groups. Fifty-six different ethnic groups make up the great Chinese national family. By the end of 2014, the total number of Chinese population at the mainland reached 1,367.82 million. Of this total, rural permanent residents numbered 618.66 million, accounting for 45.23 percent.

Administrative Division

According to the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, the country’s administrative units are currently based on a three-tier system.

  1. The country is divided into provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the Central Government
  2. Provinces and autonomous regions are divided into autonomous prefectures, counties, autonomous counties and cities
  3. Counties, autonomous counties and cities are divided into townships, ethnic minority townships, and towns.

At the moment, China has 23 provinces, 5 autonomous regions, 4 municipalities directly under the Central Government and 2 special administrative regions.


China, a big agricultural country endowed with rich agricultural resources, has a long history of farming and the tradition of intensive cultivation as well as a huge rural population.

The Chinese government has always placed high priority on the development of agriculture. Since 1978, China has carried out step by step the policy of reform and opening up, bringing along a quickened pace in agricultural reform and development. Particularly, in recent years the government has abided by giving first priority to the work on agriculture, rural areas and farmers.

China has succeeded in producing one fourth of world’s grain and feeding one fifth of world’s population with less than 10 percent of world arable land, which is great achievement in pursuit of food and nutrition security not only in China but also in the world. Currently, China ranks first in the world in terms of the production of cereals, cotton, fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry, eggs and fishery products.

Thanks to the great importance attached to opening agriculture to the outside world, China has increasingly closer links with other countries in this field. Now, the country has built up agricultural exchange and cooperation relations with some major international agricultural and financing organizations as well as more than 140 countries. Through south-south cooperation, China has been actively providing assistance to other developing countries in support of local agricultural development.

Priorities of Agricultural and Rural Development in China during the 12th Five-Year Period (2011-2015)

  • Supply of farm produce: Grain sowing area will be maintained at above 106.7 million ha, and gross production above 540 million tons; Gross output of cotton, sugar and oil will reach 7 million, 140 million and 35 million tons in respective; vegetables and fruits supply will increase steadily; meat, poultry/egg, milk, and aquatic products will total no less than 85 million, 29 million, 50 million and 60 million respectively; compliance rate of farm produce in regular quality and safety inspection will be above 96%.
  • Agricultural and rural industrial structure: Livestock and fishery will contribute 36% and 10% to total output value in agriculture; output value of agro-processing will out-size agriculture by 2.2 folds; added value of township enterprises will grow by 10% annually; gross output value of state farm will grow by 9% annually; functions of agriculture will be more diverse – being a platform for farm tourism and a bond of cultural traditions. Agricultural and rural service industry will grow rapidly.
  • Agricultural material and technology development: High-standard farmland—harvest can be secured in drought or flood conditions – will keep increasing its share; an additional 2.667 million ha farmland will be under effective irrigation; the coefficient on effective use of water for agricultural irrigation will reach 0.53. Total horsepower of agricultural machineries will reach 1 billion kW. Mechanization will cover 60% of plowing, planting and harvesting works; rural labors with practical know-how will amount to 13 million, with much better education and capacity; science and technology will contribute to 55% of agricultural output.
  • Agricultural production and operation: Modern agriculture is witnessing growing size of operating entities – robust development of specialized farmers’ cooperatives, and steady development of moderate-scale operations in various forms. 130 million farm households will benefit from industrialized organization in agriculture. Large dairy farms of 100 plus standing animals will account for 38% of all farms; 50% of swine farms will be large ones with slaughter population of over 500.
  • Agricultural return and farmers’ income: Added value of agriculture, forestry, livestock and fishery will grow at around 5% annually; a total of 40 million rural labors will be employed in off-farm sector; per capita net income of rural residents will grow at an annual average of over 7%, leading to sharp decline of poor population.
  • Utilization of agricultural resources and ecological conservation: Application of fertilizer and chemicals will be evidently improved, while utilization rate of straws is aiming at 80%, and biogas digesters will be installed at more than 50% of suitable rural households. Grassland degradation will be effectively contained. In addition, conservation of aquatic resources will be enhanced, with a total of 150 billion of aquatic seedlings released for proliferation.
  • Rural infrastructures and public service:Rural infrastructures, including supply of tap water, electricity and gas, modern highway, and housing will be constantly bettered; science and technology, education, culture, health, and sport in rural areas will march ahead side by side; and rural social security systems will be continuously improved.