Opportunities and challenges of sustainable agricultural development in China

Jingzhu Zhao, Qishan Luo, Hongbing Deng, Yan Yan
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences 2008 February 27, 363 (1492): 893-904
This paper introduces the concepts and aims of sustainable agriculture in China. Sustainable agricultural development comprises sustainability of agricultural production, sustainability of the rural economy, ecological and environmental sustainability within agricultural systems and sustainability of rural society. China's prime aim is to ensure current and future food security. Based on projections of China's population, its economy, societal factors and agricultural resources and inputs between 2000 and 2050, total grain supply and demand has been predicted and the state of food security analysed. Total and per capita demand for grain will increase continuously. Total demand will reach 648 Mt in 2020 and 700 Mt in 2050, while total grain yield of cultivated land will reach 470 Mt in 2010, 585 Mt in 2030 and 656 Mt in 2050. The per capita grain production will be around 360kg in the period 2000-2030 and reach 470kg in 2050. When productivities of cultivated land and other agricultural resources are all taken into consideration, China's food self-sufficiency ratio will increase from 94.4% in 2000 to 101.3% in 2030, suggesting that China will meet its future demand for food and need for food security. Despite this positive assessment, the country's sustainable agricultural development has encountered many obstacles. These include: agricultural water-use shortage; cultivated land loss; inappropriate usage of fertilizers and pesticides, and environmental degradation.

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