By Yu Jingxian, People’s Daily Overseas Edition
China built 83.91 million mu (about 5.59 million hectares) of high-standard farmland and increased the coverage of efficient water-saving irrigation systems to 23.95 million mu in 2020, surpassing the country’s annual targets for high-standard cropland construction and expansion of coverage of efficient water-saving irrigation, said China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA).
The positive progress in the construction of high-standard farmland has further enhanced the country’s ability to ensure the supply of grain, according to a video conference held by the MARA on March 3, which attributed the progress to the efforts of agriculture and rural affairs authorities across the country that have adopted unconventional and targeted measures to ensure various projects are completed as scheduled and that COVID-19 epidemic prevention and control measures are strictly implemented.
High-standard farmland in China refers to level and contiguous arable land with complete agricultural facilities, stable electricity supply, fertile soil, good ecological environment, strong resistance to disasters, as well as high and stable yields regardless of drought and flood.
Designated as permanent basic farmland, it is considered as commensurate with modern agricultural production and management methods.
While the protection of basic farmland focuses on the quantity of land, the construction of high-standard cropland attaches equal importance to the quantity and quality of farmland, and plays a key role in guaranteeing harvests despite droughts and floods and improving crop yields and quality.
High-standard cropland has better facilities compared with those of basic farmland, and is featured by reasonable layout and network of land, irrigation canals, as well as roads.
While improving the quality of arable land and facilitating ecological protection, the construction of high-standard farmland has also benefited the sustainable and sound development of agriculture sector by establishing new standards for agricultural infrastructure.
According to the MARA, it has basically got a clear overall picture of the construction of high-standard farmland in China.
With over ten months, relevant authorities verified the quantity, quality, spatial position, and utilization of a total of more than 90,000 projects for the construction of high-standard farmland, and improved the data for more than 10 million pieces of farmland, thus mapping out the basic situation of the high-standard farmland built between 2011 and 2018.
At present, pictures of and information about the verified farmland have been input into relevant databases, while inspection, assessment and rectification of certain problems are being advanced steadily.
China has constantly intensified the efforts in and improved the quality of farmland construction. In 2020, China’s central government increased subsidies for farmland construction by nearly 800 million yuan ($122.96 million) to 86.7 billion yuan.
Local governments have also enhanced financial input in the field continuously. In particular, such provinces as Hebei, Jiangsu, Shandong, Henan, Hunan, and Sichuan have invested over 500 yuan per mu of land in farmland construction.
In addition, more funds raised through special bonds have been injected continuously into the construction of high-standard farmland across the country, with nine provinces, including Jiangxi, Shandong, and Sichuan, issuing nearly 20 billion yuan of special bonds, anti-epidemic special government bonds, general bonds, and other types of bonds for high-standard farmland construction.
The country has constantly advanced the construction of the network for monitoring the quality of cultivated land. Last year, the MARA published a communiqué on the quality rating of China’s cultivated land in 2019, which said the quality of China’s cultivated land had risen 0.35 grade in 2019 compared to that five years ago.
China has intensified efforts to protect and utilize its high-yielding black soil. It has implemented projects to protect and utilize 8.8 million mu of black soil in 32 counties, and established 100 relevant comprehensive demonstration zones, with each covering an area of over 10,000 mu.