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Shortage of farms and water threatens grain output targets

08-27-2010 11:46 BJT

BEIJING, Aug. 27 (Xinhuanet) -- The growing shortage of farmland and water resources may prevent China from achieving its ambitious grain output targets in the next decade, warned both officials and experts.

A Guizhou farmer holds his poor harvest. Severe drought has greatly affected crops in many parts of the country this year.(Xinhua Photo)
A Guizhou farmer holds his poor harvest. Severe drought has 
greatly affected crops in many parts of the country this year.
(Xinhua Photo)

Acute shortages of reserve farmland and water resources are now the main restraints for the country to ensure its food security, Zhang Ping, minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, said on Thursday while making a report to the top legislature.

Facing a rising population, the central government plans to boost China's annual grain output to more than 550 million tons by 2020, an increase of 50 million tons over 2007.

By contrast, the cultivable land in the country sharply decreased from 130.04 million hectares in 1996 to 121.72 million hectares in 2008 due to rapid urbanization and natural disasters, figures from the National Bureau of Statistics show.

Also, the current per capita cultivated farmland is about 0.092 hectares, which is only about 40 percent of the global average. Less than 4.7 million hectares in the country can be considered reserve farmland, Zhang told the legislature.

The country had its sixth consecutive grain harvest in 2009, with grain output rising 0.4 percent year-on-year to a record high of 530.8 million tons, the official figures showed.

"The increase of the grain output in recent years is mainly due to enlarging the planted areas, as the government encouraged farmers to produce grain by offering subsidies since 2004," said Lu Bu, a researcher with the institute of agriculture resources and regional planning at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

"But these grain output increases cannot be continued since China does not have much additional farmland to be cultivated in the future," he said.

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