Province moves to protect farmland
COASTAL Fujian province is moving to resolve the conflict between diminishing farmland and the demand for land for economic development, official reports said.
The China News Service said excessive growth of development zones and building had drastically reduced the area available for farming. Last year alone 5,700 hectares were lost.
''The conflicts between 'having meals' and construction become increasingly acute,'' it said.
Local authorities have been urged to begin a system to save valuable farmland from development.
About 20 development zones which failed to meet the required conditions had their permission for development revoked. The total area of land involved was estimated at 102 square kilometres.
The news service said development zones had taken up 65 per cent of farmland that has been turned over for other uses. The zones were being used for construction of railway lines, airports, highways and power stations and burgeoning rural enterprises.
It said the average area of farmland per head in the province was now the lowest across the country.
The nation faced an annual shortfall of grain supply of two million tonnes.
The report said the provincial authorities had decided to stipulate as ''basic protected zone of farmland'' three-quarters of the remaining farmland, in order to curb abuses in land use.
The unregulated growth of the property market and development zones has been blamed as a key factor in chronic problems such as the drop of grain production and the strain in the already-tight money supply.
Shortfall in grain production in southern provinces, particularly Guangdong and Fujian, was partly responsible for a surge in food prices last year, which triggered a nationwide crisis in grain prices.
It is understood that senior leaders have singled out the southern provinces for fierce criticism for failure to ensure self-sufficiency of food supply.
While curbing the loss of farmland, the news agency said Fujian would boost the exploitation of new land for farming this year.
Furthermore, additional tax will be levied on the occupation of farmland for other purposes. Revenue will be used to open up new farmland.
Provincial Governor Chen Minyi said authorities had set a target to increase the supply of farmland by about 2,700 hectares this year.
Areas to be named as ''protected zones'' include existing farmland used for plantations producing grain, edible oil, sugar cane and vegetables.
Others are experimental farmland, agricultural high-tech zones and bases for the development of high-yield farm products.