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More funds to flow into agriculture technology
By Cao Desheng (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-05-29 08:50

More than 400 million yuan (US$48 million) will flow into agricultural technology development in the next three years.

The aim of the project is to ensure steady growth in the nation's grain production despite limited farmland, said sources with the Ministry of Science and Technology Friday.

The target is to increase grain production from last year's 430 million tons to 500 million tons by 2006 using innovations in agricultural technology.

"In the long run, the way to sustain growth in grain production is the application of science and technology to agriculture since farmland areas are shrinking every year," said Science and Technology Vice-Minister Li Xuejun.

The nation's grain production has declined steadily in the past six years from 512.3 million tons in 1998 to 430 million tons last year, down 15 per cent.

The problem was exacerbated in the second half of last year by fluctuations in the international grain market, which caused both domestic and international concerns over the nation's food security.

The central government has put priority on the growth of grain production, boosting farmers' income and pooling all possible resources to strengthen the nation's agricultural science and technology base, Li said.

The project, focusing on staple foods such as rice, wheat and corn, will be carried out in 11 major grain producing provinces in North China, Northeast China as well as middle-and lower reaches of the Yangtze River.

It was jointly launched by the Ministry of Science and Technology, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Finance and State Grain Administration.

Highlighting quality, efficiency, safety and environment-friendliness in grain production, the project aims to increase the nation's grain production by about 16 million tons before 2006. Simultaneously, farmers' incomes should rise to the tune of 16.4 billion yuan (US$2 billion), Li said.

Meanwhile, the technological transformation in agricultural sectors will be intensified to help farmers really benefit from advanced technologies, said Zhang Baowen, agricultural vice-minister.

He urged local governments to help farmers improve the market competitiveness of their produce while increasing grain production.

"Both the quantity and quality of agricultural products should be stressed," he noted.

Yuan Longping, a member of Chinese Academy of Engineering and director-general of the China National Hybrid Rice Research and Development Centre, said Friday that his super-hybrid rice has achieved great success and will soon be mass produced.

Production of the super-hybrid rice per hactare can amount to 16,500 kilograms, which can help feed the world's most populous country, he said.

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