Thursday, July 12, 2007

China's Line in the Sand Ignores the, uh, Sand

China used to be able to grow enough food to feed its entire population. It used to be a net food exporter, but since 2004 it has been a net food importer. With one fifth of the world's population, it has only 7% of the world's arable land, so its leaders intend to stem the loss of any additional land to other purposes such as development. Housing, roads and factories have been gobbling up farmland at an accelerating pace. China now has a food security problem.

Reuters reports that in a news conference, Minister of Land and Resources Xu Shaoshi declared that the government will hold the line at a minimum of 120 million hectares devoted to agriculture. How this new law will be enforced, given the turmoil of China's booming business development and migration to the cities, remains to be seen.

No mention at the news conference, apparently, of the spreading Gobi desert, which has been claiming Chinese farmland for years. More on that in a future post here.

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