China / Society

More than 40% of China's arable land degraded: report

(Agencies/ Updated: 2014-11-05 11:56
More than 40% of China's arable land degraded: report
Villagers sow peanut seeds in Zaozhuang, East China's Shandong province on April 17, 2014. [Photo/IC] 

More than 40% of China's arable land is suffering from degradation, seriously reducing the country's capacity to produce food for the world's biggest population, Xinhua reported Tuesday.

The rich black soil in Northeastern Heilongjiang province, which forms part of China's bread basket, is thinning, while farmland in China's south is suffering from acidification, the report said, citing agriculture ministry statistics.

Degraded land typically includes soil suffering from reduced fertility, erosion, changes in acidity and the effects of climate change as well as damage from pollutants.

China's growing population and accelerating urbanization are eroding the country's arable land and threatening food security.

China, which must feed nearly 1.4 billion people, has already outlined plans to tackle soil pollution, said to affect around 3.3 million hectares of land.

The agriculture ministry wants to create 53 million hectares of connected farmland by 2020 that would allow it to withstand drought and floods better, said Xinhua. Larger farms are more suited to irrigation and other modern farming practices.

It also wants to strengthen the monitoring of arable land management and speed up the legislative process to protect farmland in order to ensure stable food production and farmers' incomes, the report added.

According to the results of the second national land survey released in December 2013, China's arable land totaled about 135.4 million hectares at the end of 2012, just slightly above the red line set by the government.

The three-year survey showed that China's per capita arable land area shrank to 0.1 hectares by the end of 2009, far below the world average of 0.23 hectares.

The country vowed to keep its red line of 120 million hectares of arable land at last year's Central Rural Work Conference. Chinese President Xi Jinping, speaking at a conference on China's agricultural policies, said that China should continue to adopt strict regulations regarding the protection of arable land to ensure the country's food security.

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