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Tighter Control on Land Use to Protect Farmland

China has vowed to take a firmer stance on the protection of arable land.

Its farmland area stood at 122 million hectares last year, 8 million hectares less than 10 years ago, land and resources officials said yesterday.

China should strengthen administration over land resources and adhere to strict protection mechanisms on farmland, said Sun Wensheng, minister of land and resources.

Rapid industrialization and urbanization and the large-scale restoration of farmland for other purposes, are regarded as the main reasons behind the shrinking farmland, ministry officials said.

In a recent speech, Sun warned against the illegal use of farmland in the new round of rural development, Xinhua said.

The campaign is part of the country's 11th Five-Year Guidelines (2006-10) aimed at increasing farmers' incomes and improving infrastructure in the countryside.

China is promoting the reform of land resource utilization in rural areas gradually, officials said.

Sun said the government would tighten supervision over compensation when farmers lose their land, to safeguard their interests.

Farmers must be duely compensated if their lands are used for purposes other than farming

Vice-Minister of Agriculture Fan Xiaojian said China could have problems feeding its 1.3 billion population unless the trend of shrinking farmland was curbed,

"With the current area of farmland, it is fairly difficult to guarantee the country's safe grain supply," he said.

(China Daily April 6, 2006)

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