Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Chinese Farmland Continues to Experience Dry Conditions

Some interesting news coming out of China. Of particular concern is the wheat crop. 2011's wheat harvest is dependent to a great degree on Chinese output. The problem is compounded by some local governments' insistence on re-routing water tables for industrial use. Winter wheat in particular is very water intensive.

Most Of China's Cultivated Farmland Lacks Irrigation -Official
More than half of China's cultivated farmlands are dependent solely on weather conditions for water, with only 49% served by effective irrigation, a senior Ministry of Agriculture official said in an essay on an academic website.

The government targets spending of CNY4 trillion ($608 billion) over the next decade on water conservation infrastructure projects. It is redirecting $12 billion this year from property tax revenues to irrigation projects and making water conservation the centerpiece of its 2011 agriculture policy.

Zhang Hongyu, the ministry's supervisor of agricultural policy, said on the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Rural Development Institute website Tuesday that "irrigation is the weakest link in China's agricultural production infrastructure."

Two-thirds of China's farmlands are affected by drought, steep slopes, poor soil, salinity and other factors, he said.

In China, efficient water use through irrigation is just 60% that of developed economies, Zhang said in the essay, without elaborating.

In his essay, which was first published in the Communist Party's People's Daily newspaper, Zhang also called for the government to redirect industrial investments to the agriculture sector to "release the potential of rural consumption."

"The need to expand domestic demand is a basic necessity of improving agricultural infrastructure," he wrote.

Even as rural incomes have risen on the tide of surging agriculture commodity prices, China last year recorded its widest rural-urban income gap since 1978.

Source - CME News for Tomorrow
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