China's shortage of farmland is expected to exceed 6.67 million ha by the year 2020, a senior official with the Ministry of Agriculture told Xinhua on Monday.
Fan Xiaokang, vice-minister of Agriculture, told Xinhua on the sidelines of the ongoing annual session of the Tenth National People's Congress, China's parliament, that China's farmland resources are "very limited".
Official statistics show that China has 122 million ha of farmland, accounting for less than 7 percent of the world total. Of the total, only 104 million ha - 106.67 million ha is used for grain production.
"It's a tough job for China to ensure grain security with this amount of farmland," Fan said.
An average of nearly one million ha was lost each year between 1996 and 2004, Fan said, but the loss dropped to 360,000 ha in 2005 thanks to tough measures imposed by the government.
China's territory is 9.6 million square kilometers. More than 60 percent of the total population, however, lives on the plains and basins that make up less than one-third of the nation's territory.
One third of China's area is mountainous, about one quarter of the area is plateau, and about 10 percent is hilly.
(Xinhua News Agency March 7, 2006)