From: Associated Press
Published December 30, 2005 12:00 AM

China Says Grain Output Hits Record High

SHANGHAI, China — China's total grain harvest for 2005 was expected to reach a record 484 million tons, state media reported Thursday, as rising yields make up for losses of land to erosion and construction.


The bumper grain crop, up 3 percent from last year's record harvest of 469.5 million tons, was largely attributed to improved technology, the state-run newspaper China Daily reported.


Average yield per hectare hit a record 4.6 metric tons (5 tons), the report said.


"The high growth of grain production ... shows that the increase of China's grain production has shifted from the expansion of planting area to the advancement of farming technology," it cited China's Agriculture Minister Du Qinglin as saying.


Du reported that average income for farmers was forecast to hit 3,250 yuan (US$400; euro335) this year, up 6 percent from the year before.


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Authorities -- anxious to ensure the country's basic self-sufficiency in staple foods -- have begun abolishing farm taxes and enacting other measures to encourage farmers to continue growing grain.


Some 4.4 million farmers leave their fields each year to find other work, Xinhua said, putting the rural migrant population at 108 million in 2005.


Increasingly the country must rely on technology, rather than expanding cultivating, to boost harvests: though its 1.3 billion people form about a quarter of the world's population, the country has only 6 percent of the world's arable land.


In 2004, 2.5 million hectares (6.2 million acres), or about 2 percent of China's total arable land, were lost to construction, according to earlier reports. Widespread erosion and pollution accentuate the problem.


Source: Associated Press


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