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Agriculture in China I

DATE:2017-03-01       SOURCE:MOA

Agriculture in China



China has a big agriculture sector. The Chinese government has always put the issue of feeding its 1.3 billion people on the top of its agenda, and adhered to the path of agricultural modernization with distinctive Chinese characteristics. Since the turn of the century, China has made remarkable achievements in agricultural and rural development. By 2015, its grain production has set a new record of 12 successive years of increase, offering abundant and diversified agricultural products. China feeds 20% of the world population with less than 9% of the world arable land. By 2015, farmers’ income has secured fast increase for 12 consecutive years, with fast improvement in social undertakings, infrastructure and living conditions in rural areas. On-going agricultural and rural economic growth basically meets people’s increasing demand for agricultural products, providing strong support for the industrialization and urbanization that are unprecedented in terms of scale and speed, and making due contribution to food security around the world.


However, China still faces many problems and challenges in agricultural development, such as resources constraints, increasing demand for agricultural products, weak infrastructure facilities in rural areas, insufficient technology innovation and extension capacity, rising agricultural production costs, and a big gap in income and public service between rural and urban areas. To address those challenges, China will stick to the policy of maintaining grain self-sufficiency basically with domestic resources, speeding up agricultural technology progress, improving agricultural production capacity, deepening rural reform, promoting urban and rural integration, boostingharmonized development of industrialization, IT application, urbanization and agricultural modernization. It is our goal to feed Chinese people with sufficient, safe and quality food, and enable millions of Chinese farmers to live a decent life in the beautiful countryside.


China has established increasingly close links with other countries in the field of agriculture. Its agriculture sector is opening up to the outside world in an all-dimensional, multi-tiered and wide-ranging manner. China will stick to its open-up policy, and continue to utilize both domestic and international markets and resources. We will steadily press for “bring-in” and “go-global initiatives to attract advanced technologies, human resources and capital from other countries. Efforts will be made in technical assistance and training for other developing countries to the best of our ability, as well as in active participation in international agricultural affairs and healthy growth of international agricultural trade.


The Chinese nation has created a splendid farming civilization. In the future, China will strive to make bigger contribution to world agricultural development and global food security.


1Resources and Environment of China’s Agriculture

China is home to rich plant and animal resources. There are thousands of crop varieties plus their close wild relatives, over 1,200 of which are cultivars, including grain crops such as rice, wheat and corn, and cash crops such as fruits, vegetables, forage grass, flowers, tea, sugar cane, beet and natural rubber. There are about twenty livestock species whose genetic resources are found in China, including swine, chicken, goose, yellow cattle, and buffalo, with a total of 742 breeds. It is also home to more than 20,000 recorded aquatic breeds, including more than 3,800 types of fish.


China has vast land, which runs across five climate zones from south to north and gradually ascends from east to west like a three-step staircase, thus creating unique topographic features and diversified climatic conditions. Solar and heat resources rise as altitude moves down from north to south, resulting in temperature and harvest time variations. The crops are harvested once a year in the northeast and northwest regions, where the annual accumulated temperature ranges from 2,500°C to 3,500°C; twice a year or three times in two year in the North China Plain, with the annual accumulated temperature ranging from 4,000°C to 5,000°C’; and three times a year in the southern part of middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River Basin, where the annual accumulated temperature ranges from 5,000°C to 7,000°C. In certain Central China and Southern China regions where yearly accumulated temperature ranges from 7,000°C to 8,000°C, 4 harvests are expected every year.


With the total amount of water resources taking the 6th position globally, China faces a comparative scarcity of water resources, with the per capita water resource being only a quarter of the world average. Water resources become a major constraint for the development of agriculture in China. Precipitation is unevenly distributed between seasons and years, as well as between regions.


There is also a striking per capita scarcity of arable land. In 2015, China had 1.375 billion people and 135 million hectares of arable land, indicating a per capita availability of 0.1 hectare, less than half of the world average.

2. Agricultural and Rural Development


2.1 Role of Agriculture in the National Economy


With growing urbanization and industrialization, agriculture takes up a shrinking share in the GDP, but its role as the base and staunch pillar of the national economy has never changed. Agriculture plays also an increasingly important role in the preservation of eco-system as its multi-functionality emerges.


Table 2-1Role of Agriculture in the National Economy



Agricultural added value vs GDP (%)

Agricultural employment vs total employment (%)

Rural population employment vs total employment (%)

Rural consumer goods retail vs total consumer goods retail (%)

Agricultural expenditure vs total fiscal expenditure (%)

Agricultural import vs total import (%)

Agricultural export vs total export (%)

Engel Coefficient of urban residents (%)

Engel Coefficient of rural residents (%)











































































SourceChina Agricultural Development Report. China Statistical Communiqué of the National Economic and Social Development 2015. “—“ means data unavailable.


2.2 Agricultural Productivity


China’s agricultural productivity has constantly improved, with enhanced products supply capacity. China tops the world in the output of grains, oil crops, vegetables, fruits, tea, meat, poultry eggs and aquatic products for many years in a row.


The level of agricultural mechanization is steadily increasing. In 2015, the national agricultural machinery total power was estimated to be 1.1 billion KW, while the comprehensive mechanization rate for crop cultivation reached 63%, an increase of 2 percentage points over the previous year.

Agricultural water management infrastructure has been steadily improving. In 2015, the farmland under effective irrigation reached 75 million hectares. Irrigation for 186.67 million hectares has improved. The proportion of all-weather high-standard farmland is on the rise.


The agricultural processing industry maintains fast growth. By 2014, the number of agricultural processing enterprises across China amounted to 455,000, among which 76,000 are above designated size. Their revenue totaled 18.48 trillion yuan, and profit 1.22 trillion.


2.3 Agricultural Production Organizations and Market Development


China adopts a two-tier scheme that combines centralized and decentralized management on the basis of household contract system in terms of rural operation and management. By the end of May 2015, the number of registered farmers’ cooperatives reached 1.393 million, 255,000 more than that in the end of 2014, a 22.4% increase. In 2014, the central government allocated 2 billion yuan for the development of farmers' specialized cooperative organization, an increase of 7.5% over the previous year. 600 million yuan of the fund were used on pilot projects for the innovation of farmers’ cooperatives, a 20% yearly increase, and the pilot programs expanded to cover 12 provinces and cities.


2.4 Farmers’ Income and Living Standards


Farmers’ income has secured a steady rapid increase. Rural family business income keeps increasing while its proportion in the total income keeps dropping, with increasing fiscal transfer and assets income becoming the major source of farmers’ income increase. The government has constantly increased poverty relief input and the rural poor population has been gradually reduced. By 2015, the national rural poor population was 55,750,000, 14.42 million people less than that of 2014, and the poverty rate dropped from 7.2% to 5.7%.


Farmers’ living standards and consumption level have realized a steady improvement. The proportion of basic consumption, such as food, keeps decreasing, and the consumption structure is gradually shifting toward one with more expenditure on recreation and development.


2.5 Agri-Products Quality and Safety


The standardization of agriculture has been considered as a main indicator of modern agriculture. The goal of agriculture standardization has been redefined as the development of “high yield, high quality, efficient, eco-friendly and safe” agriculture. Monitoring in recent years consistently found that over 96% agricultural products are up to national quality and safety standards. All in all, agricultural products are safe and reliable.


Besides the Law on Quality and Safety of Agricultural Products andthe Law on Food Safety enacted by the national government, local governments are also gradually stepping up supervision. All stages of pre-production, production and post-production are covered by national and professional standards.

2.6 Rural Public Service


Construction of rural infrastructure such as water, electricity, roads, natural gas and housing are constantly strengthened and farmers’ production and living conditions have significantly improved. In 2015, roads newly-paved or rebuilt in rural areas amounted to 250,000 km, and the area of water-saving irrigation increased by 2.54 million hectares.


98% of farmers are covered by the new rural cooperative health care program, a medical insurance program with combined contributions from the central government, local governments and farmers.


Funding for rural compulsory education is now fully covered by the national budget. Since 2007, all students receiving compulsory education in rural areas have been exempted from tuition and miscellaneous costs and students from poor families have been offered with free textbooks. Living allowances have been given to boarding students from poor families. 130 million rural students benefit from these policies.


Rural pension programs are making steady progress. In 2013, new rural pension policies were adopted and the social security fund raising structure was altered, with state subsidies directly covering the base amount of rural pension accounts. 


Rural public cultural service capacity has been improved. Now each county has at least one library and one culture center. The project that enables farmers to have access to radio and television services now covers all natural villages that have more than 50 households. This project is now extending to cover villages with more than 20 households and power access.



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