The central government has allocated 230 million yuan (US$31.2
million) to conduct the country's first-ever survey of pollution
sources in rural areas in a bid to create a cleaner countryside, a
senior agriculture official said at a press conference
Focusing on animal, crop and fish farming, the survey will
provide a pollution blueprint that can be used as a point of
reference for future decision making, Zhang Fengtong, head of the
department of science, technology and education under the Ministry
of Agriculture, said.
Zhang said preliminary work has already been completed and the
survey will get under way next year.
Its findings will be published by the end of next year.
He said that as part the rural pollution control campaign, more
than 1,000 "clean" villages are currently being developed, which
have the capability to properly dispose of 90 percent of all
household waste and sewage, and where the use of fertilizers and
pesticides has been reduced by 15 percent to 30 percent.
The ministry is also helping to promote energy conservation and
pollution control by building biogas digesters in rural areas and
making more efficient use of pesticides and fertilizers, Zhang
Every year, China uses more than 360 kg of fertilizer per
hectare of land, 3.3 times more than the United States and 1.6
times more than the average for EU countries.
But only 30 percent of it is used effectively, compared to 60
percent in developed countries, Zhang said.
"To develop ecologically modern agriculture, a fundamental
change to the farming production model and way of life is
essential," Zhang said.
The problem of pollution in both rural and urban areas has been
a cause for wide concern in recent years, as the country has
strived to balance the needs of the environment with rapid economic
A document jointly issued by the State Environmental Protection
Administration (SEPA) and several other government departments last
month said: "Some environmental problems have become the main
factors endangering the health and property security of rural
Chinese, thwarting sustainable economic and social development in
The key pledge made in the document is to ensure the quality of
all drinking water sources by 2010, as more than 300 million rural
Chinese are currently affected by unsafe supplies.
Other pledges include increasing the use of soil testing to
minimize the damage caused by fertilizers and pesticides, and
boosting the volume of waste materials - crop straw, domestic
waste, livestock excrement and sewage - treated by at least 10
The document also promised that by 2010, 65 percent of people in
rural areas will have access to sanitary toilets, as part of a plan
to control environmental pollution.
However, one expert said that the major obstacle to rural water
management is that despite the fact that several ministries and the
SEPA say they allocate funds to individual projects, no single body
is directly responsible for the matter as a whole.
"There should be one ministry handling the issue," Lu Ming,
deputy head of the countryside affairs committee of the National
People's Congress, said.
"I recommend the Ministry of Water Resources lead the work and
the SEPA play a supervisory role."
December 14, 2007)