CHANGCHUN, Dec. 26 (Xinhua) -- With the transformation of large swathes of
salina land into paddy fields over the next four years, Jilin Province is
expected to increase its rice output by one-third.
Zhao Shengtang, Land and Resources Bureau director with the northeast China
province, said 6.2 billion yuan (840 million U.S. dollars) will be invested
between 2008 and 2011 to transform 270,000 hectares of salina land that was not
previously suitable for crop planting into paddy fields.
He added the project would be carried out through the diversion of water
from the Nenjiang River. It would also use underground sources and water from a
hydropower project reservoir.
Salina land is defined as an area of land encrusted with salt. With
treatment, it can be made arable.
To help ensure grain output, China has been trying every means to increase
its arable land over the past decade as rapid industrialization and urbanization
had devoured large areas.
By 2006, the country's arable land area shrank by eight million hectares,
or six percent, to 121 million hectares compared with 130 million hectares in
The central government said last year the country needed a minimum of 120
million hectares of arable land to grow enough grain to feed the country.
"China faces great challenges to keep its agrarian land area above the
alarming line, given its industrialization and urbanization continues to go
ahead," said Zou Yuchuan, China Land Science Society president.
"In addition to stressing more efficient land use, China should also find
means to increase its agrarian land. Salina land near lakes, rivers and eastern
coastal regions is an important alternative."
He cited an example of a successful transformation of 6,600 hectares in
eastern Shandong Province. The formerly barren salina area had been transformed
into fertile and high-yield land for crops such as cotton.
"If most of the salina land is successfully transformed, there will be an
increase of 2 million hectares of arable land in our country," he estimated.
China has also been striving to increase arable land through comprehensive
treatment measures of current land resources. This includes the transformation
of low-yield crop fields and reclamation of abandoned agrarian land.
Official figures showed the country had carried out more than 700 land
treatment projects since 1999 with an investment of five billion yuan (680
million U.S. dollars). This supplemented a total of 800,000 hectares of agrarian
Wang Shiyuan, Vice Minister of Land and Resources, said land treatment
would be the major way to supplement agrarian land for the country. The
supplement potential in this sector was more than 5.5 million hectares.
"The agrarian land reserve concerns a country's food safety," added Chen
Zhouqi, director of the consultation and research center under the Ministry of
Land and Resources. "The grain output needs to be increased to meet the demand
of a growing population."
By 2010, China's population is forecasted to near 1.4 billion. This
required a domestic grain output of no less than 500 million tons annually to
ensure food safety, according to Chen.
China's grain output was 490 million tons last year and was forecasted to
surpass 500 million tons this year.