China's widely-implemented Grain for Green Project, under which farming on fragile land gives way to afforestation, not only improves the environment but is filling farmers' pockets.
Zhang Lei, director of the Economic Development Research Center under the State Forestry Bureau, said nowadays the campaign to retire fragile land from farming and grazing and change to afforestation was being vigorously followed in China's vast central and western areas.
A great number of farmers there had switched from planting crops to planting trees and in 2001, their average incomes had risen by 200 yuan from the year before, he added.
Developing the forestry industry could boost many other related industries such as timber processing, fruit processing plus the flower and herbal medicine industries. All those sectors could absorb a large labor force.
The safety of China's national grain stocks was still guaranteed despite the Grain for Green Project being practiced during recent years, Zhang noted. The country's grain market had remained stable during this time.
(Xinhua News Agency November 15, 2002)