Poor land puts food supply in jeopardy

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 July, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 July, 1994, 12:00am

REDUCED farm yields due to overused land were putting China's future food supply in jeopardy, said State Councillor Chen Jusheng.

Rapid population growth and the steady reduction of farmland were also threatening the food supply, he said.

In many Chinese villages, farmland had been either exhausted by traditional farming methods or turned into industrial estates or real estate projects, the State Councillor warned.

Mr Chen said that although China had managed to ''revitalise'' 5.87 million hectares of low-yield farmland from 1988 to 1993, boosting the national harvest by 191,000 tonnes, the Government still faced an uphill battle.

He estimated that China still had 3.46 million hectares of low-yield farmland and said the Government would have to pump more funds into irrigation and farm facilities to improve them.

''Our foremost tasks are to develop irrigation facilities, to promote the use of better seedlings and to advance farming technology,'' Mr Chen said.

China's 40.5 million hectares of deserts and arid land could be turned into arable land but Mr Chen said this would take decades and might not solve the food problem.

He said good use of farm resources could guarantee an adequate supply of food for the growing population in the long run.

Although China had recorded bumper harvests in the past three years, the Government still had to import grain from foreign suppliers.

A recent survey by a Shanghai agricultural department showed only five per cent of Chinese said they wanted to work in the fields.