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Agricultural adaptation sought as weather grows more extreme

By XU WEI | China Daily | Updated: 2022-07-06 08:52
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China will adjust crop structure, promote water-saving irrigation, reduce the use of pesticides and expand the acreage of high-quality farmland in a bid to ensure food security in the face of heightened climate risks, according to a recent policy document.

The National Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change, released by 17 central government departments on June 13, highlighted the need to develop climate-smart agriculture and bolster national agricultural production, with climate change set to bring about more extreme weather conditions and reshape planting zones.

China's northeastern region, a major center of agricultural production, is warming at a faster rate than the national average.

While the rise in temperatures benefits agricultural production, the region could be faced with more frequent summer floods, affecting wetlands and vulnerable frozen lands, it said.

A report published by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in March warned that climate change could threaten China's food security, as a warming climate is expected to affect yields of wheat, corn, rice and fish.

It warned that climate change could also exacerbate China's water scarcity, which could affect farming and livelihoods.

The national adaptation strategy highlighted the need to refine the planning of agricultural infrastructure in accordance with the change in climate resources and disasters.

China will carry out stringent protection measures to ensure that it retains no less than 120 million hectares of farmland, according to the document.

It has set a target of increasing the acreage of high-quality farmland to 71.7 million hectares by 2025.

To build up the climate-resilience of agricultural ecosystems, China will reduce the use of pesticides, promote the use of green pesticide control technologies and better protect agricultural biodiversity.

An action plan on farmland protection will be rolled out to increase organic matter in soil and make it more fertile.

The document added that China will strengthen the development of its seed reserves, including by adding more that are adapted to climate change, and better protect endangered animal and plant species in the agricultural sector.

Zhu Dingzhen, a meteorologist with the China Meteorological Administration, said China must prioritize efforts to adapt its agricultural sector to climate change.

He noted that crops are increasingly spreading beyond traditional planting zones as a result of rising temperatures, while an increase in the number of days with high temperatures has limited the potential for a boost to rice yields in South China.

"Targeted policies must be adopted to respond to the northward movement of vegetation belts and the increase in natural disasters," he said, adding that sowing periods must be adjusted accordingly and the crop structure must be planned in a reasonable manner.


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