Agriculture, Agricultural Planning and Improvement
agricultural mechanization, state farms, modern machinery, Chinese government, peasants
Given the very limited quantity of agricultural land in China relative to the country’s large population, rational planning of land use is of prime importance. An overemphasis on grain growing during the 1960s and 1970s led to the elimination of some low-yield but otherwise very valuable crops, orchards, and trees; it also led to the neglect of animal husbandry, and to environmental damage. The government has since promoted a mixed-farming economy that is in accordance with local environmental conditions and that also provides cash income.
The Chinese government actively pursues and promotes agricultural mechanization, although it remains in the early stages of development and is considered impractical in many places because of the relatively small size of cultivated areas. Since the 1950s the state has accomplished significant flood control and irrigation projects, which include the construction of dams, canals, and reservoirs. Increased irrigation, mechanization, and fertilizer use since the 1950s permit the growth of two crops per year in areas of the Huabei Pingyuan (North China Plain). In some parts of southern and southeastern China, peasants are able to produce three crops per year.
To supplement agricultural production, the various levels of government operate about 2,300 state farms. These are large-scale units run for the purpose of agricultural experimentation and for commercial production of certain crops such as rubber and foodstuffs for urban markets or for export. State farms are usually located in newly reclaimed areas where the rural population density is not great and modern machinery can be used effectively.
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