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Hi-tech Measures to Increase Grain Yield
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As arable land continues to shrink China is seeking more hi-tech measures to increase grain production.

A coordination group consisting of four government bodies - the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Finance Ministry and the State Administration of Grain - signed responsibility contracts with 12 major grain production provinces yesterday in Beijing, pledging to make greater efforts to increase crop yields through science and technology.

A national science and technology project for high-yield grain was also launched to provide support for the 12 major grain bases in the provice of Hebei, Liaoning, Jilin, Heilongjiang, Jiangsu, Anhui, Jiangxi, Shandong, Henan, Hubei, Hunan and Sichuan.

The project has earmarked 320 million yuan (US$42 million) for high-yield grain production, 180 million yuan from the central government and the rest will be paid by local governments.

"Hi-tech input will play a key role in ensuring the country's grain security and improving farmers' living standards," Wan Gang, minister of science and technology, said.

"The agricultural innovations must be practical to let farmers see successful results, and boost their support for hi-tech measures," Wan said.

"Our technicians need to work in the field with the farmers, and always be on hand to advise farmers during critical periods," Wan said.

Floods have hit the country's south, and drought the north.

"Crop varieties with the ability to resist drought, floods, high temperatures, diseases and pests have been developed by scientists and are expected to be promoted across the country," a professor with the Shandong Agriculture University, Yu Zhenwen, said.

"Warming temperatures have caused more pests and a shrinkage in wheat and corn crops in recent years," Yu said.

The project will involve the building of a trial zone of 9,300 hectares, a demonstration agriculture zone of 900,000 hectares, and a beneficial zone of 9 million hectares in the next four years to guarantee the country meets its annual output goal of 540 million tons by the end of 2010, as set by the 11th Five-Year Plan.

Due to urbanization, natural disasters and reforestation, at the end of October last year, the country only had 122 million hectares of arable land, 306,636 hectares less than a year earlier, according to figures from the Ministry of Land and Resources.

(China Daily July 17, 2007)

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