As Chemical Pollutants Degrade Quality of Soil and Yield in China, Mandates to Promote Eco-Farming Receive Thrust

China might have earned the reputation of being the world’s chemicals hub, but the country is now trying to reduce its own dependence on chemicals and inorganic fertilizers – this change is manifesting itself in the form of policies promoting green or eco-friendly agriculture practices.

The country is taking concrete steps toward making this change possible. The first change that the country hopes to bring about to realize its dream of large-scale eco-friendly farming is a cap on the use of fertilizers and chemicals. The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture, according to recent media reports, is betting big on this change and it is only a matter of time before the country puts mandates in place to make eco-friendly farming practices a norm. 

Already, a few objectives are in place: by the end of 2020, China’s agricultural ministry expects that the utilization of irrigation water should be at least 55%. Currently, the water utilization rate in irrigation operations in China stands at 52%. China’s minister for agriculture, Han Changfu, said during a conference this week in Chengdu that the management of resources such as manure and crop straw should be improved. At the same time, the use of agricultural films should be made more efficient.

As things stand in the agriculture sector in China today, one cubic meter of water produces only one kilogram of grain – this is low as compared to the output in developed countries, which is between 1.2 and 1.4 kilograms. 

China’s output of summer grain has been at record-breaking levels for 12 years in the running. While this certainly is good news for the Chinese agricultural sector, a few serious concerns are now being raised. Soil hardening and acidification, for instance, is already plaguing farmers in China. The problem with these undesirable changes is that the cost of producing grain is rising, and yields are dipping. 

According to national statistics, at least 16% of the soil in China features a higher degree of pollutants than permissible. 

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