Sichuan to halt farmland losses
By IRENE SO
SICHUAN is to halt further losses of arable land in an attempt to boost grain production and rationalise the economic structure.
The provincial leadership admitted at its ongoing people's congress that its grain output had been affected as chunks of 'fertile farmland' had been turned into industrial development.
The province plans to restore its minimum farmland area to 10 million hectares in the coming year, according to a report by Xinhua (New China News Agency) yesterday.
The increase will include 134,000 hectares of rice fields although the provincial Governor Xiao Yang reported a sustained growth of its rural economy last year.
Mr Xiao was quoted by Xinhua as saying at the weekend that the province's agricultural output value rose 3.8 per cent to 116.9 billion yuan (HK$107.08 billion) last year. The production value of rural industries soared by 89 per cent to 364 billion yuan.
According to the governor, local farmers harvested 42.32 million tonnes of grain and produced 5.02 million tonnes of meat last year.
However, recent reports said that China over-estimated its rural production and had plans to buy rice and other grains from India.
Sichuan's rural industry is ranked only sixth in China, behind Shandong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Guangdong and Henan.
Mr Xiao, who is close to patriarch Deng Xiaoping's family, has been criticised for failing to improve the agricultural output for the most populous province in the country.
Despite his vulnerability approaching the patriarch's death, his post as the Governor is believed to be secure in the foreseeable future.