Fujian Province is to protect its limited cultivated farmland from dwindling by applying strict control measures.
The east China province has one of the smallest per capita acreages of farmland. Governor of the province Huang Xiaojing told the Third Session of the 10th Fujian Provincial People's Congress that the province will again spend 600 million yuan in 2005 - the same it has spent each year - in farmland consolidation and improvement to expand farmland areas and improve quality and yield.
The provincial government has recently also declared it will carry out the strictest farmland protection system requested by the State Council.
With per capita acreage of only 0.04 hectare, Fujian has taken a number of measures to balance making money from farming with protecting the actual land, said Lin Yibiao, vice-director of the Provincial Land Resources Bureau Department.
So far, the province has earmarked 1.22 million hectares of basic farmland for special protection, which accounts for 86 per cent of its total farmland area.
"To use the farmland in an intensive and reasonable way is considered the most effective means of protecting the land," Lin said.
He said the province has been building a complete classification supervision system which will be extended to the whole province by the end of this month, to improve controls. The system is the first of its kind to be used in the country, Lin said.
Jiang Guohe, magistrate of the province's Liancheng County and also a deputy to the People's Congress, said the county government has signed farmland protection responsibility agreements with every town and village in the county.
Latest statistics from Lin's department suggest that for five consecutive years the province has managed to compensate farmers for all farmland that has been taken and used for other purposes.
Last year, while 5,666 hectares of farmland was allocated for non-farming purposes, compensation was made for 91,000 mu (6,066.7 hectares) of farmland with a compensation surplus of 5,000 mu (333.3 hectares).
Delayed or even unpaid compensation on farmland taken and used for other things has been a long-standing problem in some rural areas in China, and something that has often ended in conflict between governments and farmers.
(China Daily January 24, 2005)