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Grain Shortage Fuels Land Conservation

In August, China's top land regulator urged local authorities to safeguard 1.8 billion mu (120 million hectares) of the country's farm land fearing a grain shortage. Local authorities responded to the request on Thursday.

Xu Shaoshi, head of the Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR), called on provincial leaders to abide by the land use general outline in a letter dated August 29.

On the ministry's website on Thursday, local government officials said they would protect arable land by strengthening management and by fighting land use malpractice.

They added that they would formulate scientific land utilization plans to improve efficiency and conservation.

On August 13, China's State Council, the cabinet, approved a general outline for the country's land use plan during the 2006-2020 period. The goal is to ensure the proper use of farm land and guarantee a minimum of 120 million hectares of arable land, amid concerns about grain supplies.

In September the MLR asked local governments to replenish farmland before allocating it for non-farming purposes.

China is facing a sharp conflict between land supply and demand. The area of arable land, shrank 610,100 mu in 2007 to 1.826 billion mu. That was only slightly above the governments minimum total goal.

(Xinhua News Agency October 10, 2008)

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