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Sustainable agriculture in focus
(China Daily)
Updated: 2004-04-06 00:32

Chinese farmers face a dilemma.

On the one hand, they are trying to respond to an increasing demand for food and fibre driven by the country's fast growing population; on the other hand, they face the need to increase production in an already overextended natural resource base.

Dozens of world-leading agricultural experts gathered in Beijing Monday to try to find a solution to this dilemma.

The development of sustainable agriculture in China needs to find a balance between intensive production and environmental protection, said Qu Dongyu, a professor with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

"Due to poor agricultural resource management practices in some areas in the past, certain fertile lands were converted to non-agricultural uses and some are threatened by degradation from erosion, nutrient mining, waterlogging and salinization," Qu said.

"Science and technology are the first driving force to achieve sustainable agriculture development," said Qu at an international conference on sustainable agricultural resource management Monday in Beijing.

Co-hosted by the Ministry of Education, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and China Agricultural University, the conference aims to create an exchange and integration system for sustainable agriculture and create a dialogue system between scientists and policy-makers.

The three-day conference will highlight several topics including farming management systems under socio-economic consideration, food safety and quality and integrated fertilization and water management.

Training and education are key factors in bringing about changes at the farm level and will guarantee the adoption of modern technological farming options, said Professor Volker Roemheld of the German University of Hohenheim.

It is clear that education plays an important role in preparing farmers, researchers, extension staff and members of agro-businesses to make productive contributions, Roemheld said.

Millions of poor rural people desperately need access to updated knowledge and technologies, including improved plant varieties and animal breeds and better crop and post-harvest techniques, Zuo Ting with the China Agricultural University agreed.

The country has established more than 2,000 high-tech agricultural demonstration parks to help promote farming technologies and knowledge, Zuo said.

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