Edited by Guy M. Robinson and Doris A. Carson
Chapter 10: Agricultural production in China under globalisation
This chapter analyses the changes of China’s farmland use level (FUL) and aims to develop a ‘farmland–grain elasticity coefficient’ (FGEC) in order to reveal the interaction between changes in use of farmland and security of grain production. The serious losses of farmland since 1978 have led to great pressure on grain production security, but increasing investments in farmland quality and human incentives have mitigated this pressure to some extent. FUL at the national level has increased due to the rapid economic development since 1978. The path of this rapid improvement shows a gradient declining from southeast coastal China to inland China with further economic development. However, the increases to the FUL may not be maintained because of the conversion of farmland and transfer of farm workers to non-agricultural activities. Agricultural structural adjustments and ongoing improvements of FUL may not always bring about sustainable and steady growth in grain outputs. In general, farmland areas and human investments interact with each other to influence grain production. At the beginning of Chinese economic reform, due to the weak agricultural base, improvements in the artificial ‘quality’ of farmlands had great positive effects on maintaining food security. Along with economic development and improvements in the agricultural base, the increase of labour investment will play only a weak role in increasing grain production and in maintaining food security, without technological breakthroughs in all aspects of agricultural production. Therefore, considering the law of diminishing marginal utility, the available area of farmland will play a key role in maintaining the security of grain production. Based on the analyses of changing agricultural production policies, and the trends and challenges of China’s agricultural production, the authors argue that both protecting farmland from a transformation to other land use types, and ensuring its effective management constitute key solutions for maintaining grain production security in China.
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