V. Protection of the Rural Environment

China is a large agricultural country, and rural residents account for the overwhelming majority of the population. Thus, it is an important environmentalist task to control pollution of the agricultural environment and improve the rural environment.
-- Comprehensive control of the rural environment. In recent years, the Chinese government has launched campaigns to build towns and townships with a beautiful environment and ecologically advanced villages, pushing forward comprehensive control of the rural environment. At present, 178 towns and townships have been awarded the title of "National-level Towns and Townships with a Beautiful Environment." The Chinese government is concentrating on the demonstration of comprehensive control of pollution from livestock, poultry and fish breeding, and non-point pollution in Taihu, Dianchi and Chaohu lakes, as well as in the Yangtze, Zhujiang and Yellow river deltas. Some provinces and municipalities have beefed up control of the village environment and improved village infrastructure, and made progress in treating rural sewage and waste and controlling agricultural non-point pollution. In recent years, China has completed more than 800,000 rural drinking water projects, solving difficulties and insecurity in this regard for 67 million rural residents. The government has started the investigation of soil pollution and demonstration of pollution control throughout the country, and set up a system of testing and controlling the security of agricultural products; strengthened the environmental security control of pesticides and chemical fertilizer, popularized high-efficiency, low-toxicity and low-residue pesticides, and prohibited the use of high-toxic and high-residual pesticides in the production of vegetables, fruits, grain, tea and Chinese medicinal herbs; prevented non-point pollution brought about by irrational use of chemical fertilizer, pesticides, farm-use plastic sheeting and wastewater irrigation, so as to ensure the security of agricultural products; developed and produced new, safe, high-quality and high-efficiency feed, improving the utilization rate of feed and reducing pesticide residue of breeding industry products and discharge of harmful substances; popularized the technique of comprehensively utilizing and treating faeces of livestock and poultry, and encouraged the development of eco-agricultural projects that closely integrates breeding industry with crop farming.
-- Development of eco-agriculture and ecological demonstration zones. The Chinese government has put the development of eco-agriculture high on the agenda for promoting the overall and coordinated development of the rural economy and ecological environment. At present, there are more than 400 eco-agriculture counties in China, and more than 500 counties and cities with eco-agriculture demonstration zones. Among them, there are 102 national-level eco-agriculture counties and 233 national-level eco-agriculture demonstration zones. In recent years, the Chinese government has continuously improved the system for developing and managing organic food, and issued the Measures on the Administration of Organic Food Certification and the National Organic Food Standards; released the national standard for good agricultural practice (GAP) and the implementation rules on the GAP certification to tackle the organic food problem at its source; and started to build national organic food production bases, with 43 national-level bases having been named as such, helping the industrialization of organic food. Well over three million ha throughout the country have met the organic food certification requirements.
-- Development of dry-farming and water-saving agriculture. By 2005, the Chinese government had poured over 700 million yuan into building more than 460 dry-farming and water-saving agriculture demonstration bases in semi-arid and arid areas, making comprehensive use of agronomic, biological and engineering measures and dry-farming technologies, and making full use of natural precipitation to increase water utilization and agricultural production ability, and control soil erosion. The State has been actively popularizing protective cultivation, including stalk coverage, no-tillage sowing, deep plowing and weeding, with the focus on the two recently completed protective cultivation belts, one around Beijing and Tianjin, and the other in duststorm sources in the northwest. By the end of 2005, 100 demonstration counties had been set up.
-- Development of new-energy projects in rural areas. It is an important approach to protecting and improving the rural ecological environment to develop and popularize new types of energy in rural areas. During the Tenth Five-Year Plan period, the State spent 3.5 billion yuan to popularize an ecological model of energy with marsh gas as the pivot. By the end of 2005, there were more than 17 million households using methane, and the yearly output of methane reached 6.5 billion cu m. The government has devoted major efforts to developing a project producing methane from wastes in livestock and poultry breeding. So far, more than 2,200 such methane projects have been completed, treating more than 60 million tons of faeces. And 137,000 methane pits for purifying domestic sewage and over 500 central heating projects with gas from burning stalks have been built. In addition, 189 million households now use fuel-saving stoves, and solar water heaters cover a total of 28.5 million sq m. Meanwhile, the government has been actively promoting the use of renewable solar, wind and geothermal energy sources.