A Chinese farmer involved program to return low-yield and hilly cropland to forest and grass has acquired 11.4 million tons of grain as subsidies from the government.
The government launched the forest-for-grain program in 1998. Since then, more than 13 million rural households have turned their cropland over to forest growth and grassland, according to a mid-term assessment report.
By the end of 2002, more than 53 million farmers each received 215 kg of grain as government subsidies, which values 230 yuan (US$27.8) counted on the current grain price.
The report estimates that by the end of this year, 15.1 million hectares of land will have been returned to forests and grassland across the country, or half of the task will have been fulfilled. The survival rate of trees and grass surveyed is up to the state standards.
The report says improvements in the environment are remarkable in areas where the program is carried out, with soil erosion reduced and vegetation coverage expanded. The program has also helped promote agricultural restructuring in these areas.
(Xinhua News Agency December 1, 2003 )