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Chinese Ministry to Protect Arable Land

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Beijing - A permanent arable-land protection zone will be established in the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) to guarantee the country's food security, the country's top land watchdog said on Friday.

Under the pressure of economic development, the Ministry of Land and Resources is expected to guarantee a minimum land area for cultivation of 104 million hectares and increase the amount of arable land through land compensation and reclamation by more than 1.8 million hectares, Minister Xu Shaoshi said at the annual working conference of the ministry in Beijing on Friday.

The country's fast industrialization, urbanization and agricultural modernization will pose dramatic challenges to the country's land supply and demand by 2015, he added.

"This year we will further strengthen supervision and law enforcement of land protection and monitor land deals and protection in 60 cities," Xu said.

Over the past three years, the use of satellite photos and discussions with heads of cities experiencing severe illegal land-use problems have decreased the area of illegal land by 24 percent.

In 2009, illegal use of arable land reached 18,000 hectares, threatening the country's shrinking availability of arable land, statistics released by the ministry show.

Arable land in China dropped dramatically from 130 million hectares in 1996 to about 122 million hectares in 2008 due to rapid urbanization and natural disasters, figures from the National Bureau of Statistics show.

Only by guaranteeing the availability of enough arable land can the country guarantee its food security, Yin Chengjie, former vice-minister of agriculture, told Guangzhou-based Nanfang Weekly on Friday.

Yin said besides the permanent arable-land protection zone, an arable-land compensation mechanism should be set up as soon as possible to raise farmers' and local governments' support for land protection.

(China Daily January 8, 2011)


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