Alarm at fall in farmland area
CHINESE agricultural officials have rung alarm bells over the drastic drop in farmland in the country, according to the Hong Kong China News Agency.
Reviewing the state of agricultural development in the past few years, officials from the Ministry of Agriculture have told regions that the total area of farmland has already fallen dangerously low.
The officials said the total area of farmland for grain production should be kept above the level of 110 million hectares in order to maintain a stable supply of grain for the 1.17 billion population.
Initial estimates this year have shown that the total acreage of farmland for grain production has already dropped to 108 million hectares.
''The relevant departments must pay great attention [to the problem] to avoid further drastic drops in the size of farmland,'' officials said.
Agriculture officials identified the increase of abandoned land as the major cause for the reduction in farmland.
The drop in the production of grain and cotton has been remarkable, they said in the agency report.
Ministry officials called for strict supervision over laws governing the protection of farmland and arable land.
Any farmland found to be unused should be returned to peasants as soon as possible for agricultural development, they said.