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Agriculture

(3,319 words)

Author(s): Ash, Robert
According to both the Western and Chinese understanding, the term agriculture embraces in the broader sense: crop growing, forestry, animal husbandry, and fishing. Since 1992, "sidelines" which were formerly included as separate agricultural activities (such as some handicrafts, animal hunting, plant gathering, etc.), have disappeared from official statistics. In terms of its contribution to farm value-output, crop farming remains the single most important category, although post-1978 reforms have reduced its significance. Within crop farming, food grains dominate. The d…

Fishing

(945 words)

Author(s): Ash, Robert F.
The fishing grounds within the area of China's continental shelf cover an area of 2.8 million km². Some two-thirds of these fishing grounds are located in the South China Sea. An additional 16,000 km² of shallow water and shoals are capable of supporting marine fishing. In 1997, there were also more than 170,000 km² of inland water, distributed among lakes (75,000 km²), ponds (19,000 km²), reservoirs (23,000 km²), as well as rivers and streams (53,000 km²). Of this, 47,000 km² were already under use for aquaculture; that is about 70% of the potential cultivable area. From a base of just 4…

Food Production

(1,799 words)

Author(s): Ash, Robert F.
Until well after 1949, China remained a poor, low-income country. The economy was driven by agriculture, in which grain farming predominated, while household budgets were dominated by expenditure on food. Until well into the 1970s, rapid population growth was the principal source of increased demand for food, although modest rises in per capita income were also reflected in rising demand for grain (above all, "fine" grains: rice, wheat, and soybeans) for direct consumption. Only after 1978, unde…

Forestry

(952 words)

Author(s): Ash, Robert F.
China's forests provide the ecological conditions needed to support many forms of animal and plant life. In economic terms, they have also traditionally been a major source of fuel for peasants and of raw materials used in building construction and manufacturing industry. But perhaps most important of all is the environmental role played by forests in combating soil erosion, flooding, and drought. In this sense, forests can be regarded as an essential condition of the efficient functioning of China's intensive irrigated agriculture. Statistical and definitional problems make …

Grain

(1,792 words)

Author(s): Ash, Robert F.
In China, grains are defined to include "cereals" (rice, wheat, and maize) and a wide variety of other "inferior" food crops, including barley, oats, rye, sorghum, and millet. Tubers (potatoes and sweet potatoes), soybeans, broad and red beans, and peas are normally also categorized as grain crops. The grain sector has always been the cornerstone of Chinese agriculture. Even after the Chinese economy has long ceased to be driven by the farm sector, with the population enjoying a large surplus in…