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East Asia Ponders Farming Issues
China and other East Asian countries need to find ways to substantially increase grain production and protect new varieties of agricultural plants, participants at an ongoing East Asia Forum on Agricultural Technology and Cooperation in Beijing said on Tuesday.

The need stems from a growing population in the region, as well as a deteriorating environment and the shrinking size of cultivated land, they said at the three-day gathering, which is scheduled to end tomorrow.

At Monday's opening ceremony, Vice-Minister of Agriculture Liu Jian said China's agricultural development is hindered by a shortage of arable land and water resources, and worsened by increasing soil erosion and desert encroachment.

The strained relationship between population growth, resources and the environment in China is also occurring in many other East Asian countries, Liu said.

Wu Wenliang, a senior expert with China Agricultural University, suggested China augment the per-unit yield of the fields in its grain production base.

Gamal Mohamed Ahmed, representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, also called for increased per-unit yields to address the contradiction between the population, resources and the environment.

By 2030, the population in South and East Asia together will increase by nearly 1 billion to 4.22 billion, constituting 52 percent of the world's population, he said at the forum.

(China Daily June 26, 2002)

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