China in the Global Economy

1990-0457 (online)
1815-9575 (print)
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OECD’s series of books analyzing the challenges China is facing as it integrates into the global economy. Topics covered include trade, investment, the economy, environment, governance, and agriculture.

Also available in French, Chinese
Environment, Water Resources and Agricultural Policies

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Environment, Water Resources and Agricultural Policies

Lessons from China and OECD Countries You do not have access to this content

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25 Oct 2006
9789264028470 (PDF) ;9789264028463(print)

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China's endowment of water resources is extremely low, poorly distributed, and increasingly polluted.  With agriculture being one of the main consumers of water, China's future development depends on initiatives that will raise the efficiency and efficacy of water use.  These workshop proceedings examine the current situation in China, look at what is being done in OECD countries to manage water resources, and suggest policy options for China.
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  • Executive Summary
    China’s leaders face the daunting challenge of feeding the world’s largest population with limited resources. China’s per capita endowment of arable land falls between Germany and Chile. Its endowment of water resources is extremely low and badly distributed, with the North China Plain having one of the lowest per capita endowments in the world.
  • Résumé
    Nourrir la plus forte population du monde avec des ressources limitées – tel est l’audacieux défi auquel sont confrontés les dirigeants chinois. Le capital naturel par habitant de la Chine se situe entre celui de l’Allemagne et celui du Chili pour ce qui concerne les terres arables, tandis que pour les ressources en eau, il est extrêmement faible et mal réparti, la plaine du Nord étant à cet égard l’une des moins bien dotée du monde.
  • The New Socialist Countryside and its Implications for China's Agriculture and Natural Resources
    The 2006 State Council/CCCP "Number 1 Document" emphasises the "Building of a New Socialist Countryside". This year’s document is particularly noteworthy as it sets the direction for China’s 11th 5 Year Plan and makes significant commitments to China’s agri-food sector and rural industries. While it also includes provisions to boost spending on health care, education and social security, the major focus is on improving the wellbeing of China’s farmers and redressing the imbalance in living conditions between urban and rural citizens.
  • Selected Aspects of Water Management in China
    Although China has a large water resource in absolute terms, it’s availability is low on a per capita basis and unevenly distributed both geographically and seasonally. Overall China has about one quarter of the world’s average water per capita, but this falls to one tenth in northern and western areas. In almost all areas of China, water courses, lakes and groundwater are severely polluted due to agricultural pollution, and industrial and household discharges. Severe over utilisation and pollution have resulted in scarcity, inequitable distribution and degradation of aquatic ecosystems that have constrained economic development in addition to posing a major threat to the health and livelihoods of the population. In using 70% of abstracted water and returning less than a third of this water to watercourses, agriculture places by far the greatest stress on water resources.
  • Effects of Integrated Ecosystem Management on Land Degradation Control and Poverty Reduction
    This paper focuses on a major concern that not only applies to China, but applies universally; namely how to achieve long term ecological improvement whilst addressing the problem of meeting short term needs of rural livelihoods. In the context of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Integrated Ecosystem Management requires: (i) cross sectoral planning; (ii) building human capital; (iii) protecting land users legal rights; (iv) improving policies for poverty reduction; and (v) promoting locally appropriate land management technologies.
  • Water Resources and Agricultural Production in China
    China faces daunting, although not insurmountable, challenges with respect to its water resources. Moreover, its endowment of water resources per capita is low and badly distributed, with the North China Plain having one of the lowest per capita endowments in the world. Current farming practices, if they are to meet the needs of China’s growing population, will also place increasing demand on irrigation capacity. A number of important river basins and watercourses also experience serious problems with pollution. Given these stark realities and emerging trends, current water management approaches are unsustainable. We make several suggestions on how to remedy the situation. Among these, we strongly suggest that correcting incentives and water management practices to raise the efficiency of its use should be a higher priority than reallocating water resources via the South to North water transfer project.
  • Agri-Environmental Policies in OECD Countries and Natural Resource Management
    Agriculture is the major user of renewable land and water resources in OECD countries and contributes to the provision of ecosystem services, including biodiversity. Governments give a high priority to the sustainability of agriculture such that food and fibre be efficiently produced to can meet present and future needs while maintaining the health of the environment. A wide range of economic instruments, regulations and voluntary approaches have been employed across OECD countries to address agri-environmental issues, and there has been some converge in policy approaches recognising that improvements involve both reducing the environmental harm and enhancing the benefits from agriculture, as well as changing agricultural practices and avoiding agriculture on land with high ecological value.
  • Market Mechanisms in Water Allocation in Australia
    Market mechanisms are now a central element of the framework for the allocation and management of water resources in Australia. Extensive reforms have given rise to a new system of water management aimed at ensuring the environmental sustainability of river systems while allowing greater flexibility for water users.
  • The Dutch Approach to Water Quality Problems Related to Fertilisation and Crop Protection
    Intensive development of Dutch agriculture between 1950-1985 was coupled with an increased loading of the environment with nutrients and crop protection products. Since 1985, the soil surplus of phosphate and nitrogen has been reduced from 103 to 40 kg P2O5/ha/yr and from 265 to 145 kg N/ha/yr respectively. The use of crop protection products declined from 21 to 10 kg/ha/yr of active substances. The current environmental standards on water quality will be attained by around 2015, thirty years after the reduction policy was begun.
  • Policy Issues Regarding Water Availability and Water Quality in Agriculture in the United States
    Most current issues regarding water availability and water quality in agriculture have arisen due to increasing competition for limited resources and changes in public preferences regarding the environment. Demand for water has increased in recent decades with increases in population and income levels. Water supply has remained largely fixed due to natural conditions and a declining rate of investment in new water supply facilities. Investment has slowed as the cost of developing new sites for dams and reservoirs has increased, and as public preferences have shifted toward greater concern for protecting the environment and sustaining the use of natural resources. Public agencies and legislatures have responded to the shift in public preferences by implementing new environmental standards that require changes in agricultural and industrial production methods. The two primary issues that must be resolved by public officials in the future are: determining the best ways to allocate limited water supplies in an era of increasing demands by agriculture, industry, cities, and the environment, and determining the best ways to define and achieve state and national water quality objectives, while not constraining desirable economic growth and development. Many smaller issues are described within the context of these primary issues.
  • Decision Support Tools to Aid Policy Design and Implementation for Sustainable Resource Use in Agriculture
    Given the growing importance of agri-environmental policies in many countries, underpinning policy-making with better analysis is a matter of some urgency to enhance policy monitoring, evaluation and future scenario analysis. In this regard the OECD has made a significant contribution in terms of: identifying and measuring the environmental performance of agriculture; building an inventory of policy measures addressing environmental issues in agriculture; and, analysing the linkages between policies and environmental outcomes. This paper provides examples of the OECD activities across these areas and identifies future directions of work to strengthen decision support tools that can improve policy design and implementation for sustainable resource use in agriculture.
  • Fertiliser Use in Chinese Agriculture
    This paper presents a retrospective analysis of the history of fertiliser use in China, discusses the significance of fertilisers in the development of the national agricultural sector, and assesses the present situation and existing problems. We also consider measures to improve fertiliser resource utilisation rates with the purpose of promoting the development of sustainable agriculture in China.
  • Conserving Agricultural Biodiversity Through Water Markets in China
    The concept of eco-compensation measures is being developed in China as an important means of providing a more diverse flow of benefits to rural people. Compensating up-stream landowners for managing their land in ways that maintain downstream water quality is particularly important for China. While biodiversity itself is difficult to value, it can be linked to other markets, such as certification in the case of organic agriculture. Drawing on the findings of the recently-released Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, this paper expands on some of the markets for agriculture-related ecosystem services (especially watershed protection), identifies relevant sources of information, and highlights some of the initiatives linking such markets to poverty alleviation. Making markets work for ecosystem services requires an appropriate policy framework, government support, operational institutional support, and innovation at scales from the site to the country.
  • A Resource Utilisation Approach to Resolving Food Security Issues in China
    For a country like China that is home to more than a billion people, the principal objective of agricultural policy must be to ensure food security. The foremost measure that can be taken in this regard is to increase domestic production. While this may seem to inevitably lead to an adversarial relationship pitting food security against the environment and available resources, it is nonetheless also a relationship that can be mutually supportive. This paper examines the ways in which the achievement of China’s food security goals can be advanced by means of better practices in resource use and environmental protection.
  • Models and Strategies for the Development of Circular Agriculture in China
    This paper proposes a systematic definition of circular agriculture and describes its basic features and implications, with reference to the circular economy models of the Dupont Corporation, the Kalundborg Industrial Symbiosis of Denmark, the DSD recycling system of Germany and the recycling society of Ayacho, Japan. It further categorises prevailing models for the development of circular agriculture in China and analyses typical characteristics. The paper concludes with policy proposals and suggested strategies for the development of a circular economy in China’s agricultural sector.
  • The Crop Protection Industry Role in Supporting Sustainable Agriculture Development in China
    Syngenta China is the subsidiary of Syngenta AG Switzerland. The company works closely with key stakeholders in developing and promoting sustainable agriculture in its daily business operations. Joint research projects with Chinese partners involve soil conservation in orchards and other commercial crops on sloped land, and no tillage and minimum tillage cultivation techniques for wheat, canola, rice and corn. This work has been conducted in cooperation with various agricultural research institutes since the mid-1980s. The research has demonstrated the benefits of soil, water and fertility conservation and cost saving techniques both to the environment and to farmers.
  • Does Crop Insurance Influence Agrochemical Use in the Current Chinese Situation? A Case Study in the Manasi Watershed, Xinjiang
    Government subsidy to crop insurance has been advocated as a policy alternative to support growth of agricultural production and farmers’ income in China since the country joining the WTO. However, cautions have been raised as the crop insurance programme may impact the environment negatively. This study tries to explore farmers’ behaviour with regard to agrochemical uses with household data applied to simultaneous- equation system consisted of disaggregated input models. We find that decisions regarding fertiliser, pesticide and agro-film applications do have different impacts on crop insurance participation, and are in turn influenced by the latter in different ways. It is also implied that encouraging farmers’ participation in crop insurance under current low-premium and low indemnity terms may not bring significantly negative impact on the environment.
  • Non-Point Source Agricultural Pollution
    Fertiliser application rates have doubled since 1980 and pesticide use has increased almost three-fold over the same period. While chemicals have played an important role in increasing agricultural production, they can also increase production costs, increase the risk of certain food quality and food safety problems, and contribute to environmental pollution. Chemical fertilisers are now over-applied at rates between 20 and 50%. For pesticides, the over application rate is even higher, falling between 40 and 55%. There is some circumstantial evidence that tenure and migration issues play a role in this pattern of excess application of commercial inputs as migrant workers apply inputs "all at once" because the time they have during their home visits is limited. But there is even more evidence that the government, scientific community, plant breeders, extension agents, and input suppliers have convinced farmers that "if a little bit is good, a lot is better". While these findings are tentative, they suggest that incentives within and among the existing research community, extension education system, and agricultural input suppliers need examination.
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