Cultivated Land Area and Grain Sown Area

At present, China has three sources of statistics on cultivated land area (Table 2.4). Among these three sources, the data provided by the Land Survey Committee is believed to be reliable. The committee is comprised of land experts who usually spend several years in the general survey. As errors might occur during the process, it is estimated that the current cultivated land in China will be between 138 and 151 million hectares. Since 1978, the cultivated land area has decreased year after year (Table 2.5). Therefore, the Chinese government clearly states in its "Ninth Five-year Plan" and "Long-term Outlook for 2010" that land for other uses should be strictly controlled. As a result, the cultivated land area will decrease more slowly than before, with a predicted annual decrease rate of 100,000-200,000 hectares. It is estimated that the cultivated land area will be 136-149 million hectares in 2010 and 133-146 million hectares in 2030.

Due to the decrease of cultivated land area and the increase of cash crop grown area through crop structure readjustment, the grain sown area continuously decreases. Its percentage in the total crop sown area is also declining. In accordance wiht the average decrease rat of the grain sown area from 1978 to the present, the grain sown area will be about 70 percent of the total crop sown area by 2010. Considering the importance of the grain in people's livlihood, the Chinese government will take measures to encourage farmers to grow grain crops. On the other hand, farmers are not willing to sacrifice too much of their land for other uses because of the vigorous grain market and factors like changing crops, crop sequence arrangement and the selection of crop varieties, etc. It is predicted that the grain sown acreage will be about 65 percent of the crop sown acreage.

Multiple crop index is another key factor influencing grain sown area. From 1980 to 1990 in China, the average multiple crop index was 115 percent. According to the sunlight condition of different areas in China, there is little potential in raising the multiple crop index in the northeast China, norhtern China and northwest China. The highest average multiple crop index can reach approximately 165 percent. Apart from the restriction of comparative advantage on growin grain crops, other factors influencing the index rise are: the extension and utilization of agricultural mechanization useful for crop sequence, the selection, breeding, extension and application

Table 2.4. Arable area statistics (10,000 ha)

Office

9,510

Survey

13,800

GIS

15,100

of early-maturing varieties. As a result, China has not the capacity to tap the potential of all the multiple crop indexes even in 2030. Through our strenuous efforts, the average index can be expected to reach 150 percent and 160 percent by that time.

Based on these analyses, the sown area of grain crops in 2010 and 2030 will be 143-156 million hectares and 138-152 million hectares respectively.

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