Drones spread pesticides in a wheat field in Bozhou, Anhui, in April. (LIU QINLI/FOR CHINA DAILY)
Minister credits protection efforts and prosecution of big cases for success
China's total arable land has increased for two consecutive years, Natural Resources Minister Wang Guanghua said during a news conference held by the State Council Information Office on Tuesday.
A report by the ministry showed that last year, arable land in China rose by more than 86,600 hectares year-on-year and now exceeds 127.6 million hectares.
Wang said strict regulation of the balance between cultivating and compensating for farmland ensured that the total amount of arable land does not decrease.
The ministry has conducted tough inspections and law enforcement to protect farmland. Measures include publicizing and prosecuting major cases involving arable land.
As a result, the number of such cases in the first half of this year decreased by 64 percent compared to the previous year, the ministry said.
An assessment system for arable land protection was also set up for local governments earlier this year.
The assessment will be conducted annually, with procedures such as provincial self-inspection and random checks to ensure a fair assessment. The results will be a key reference for evaluation and performance assessments of officials, the ministry said.
During an interview with Xinhua News Agency in June, Wang stressed the importance of prioritizing farmland protection and remaining vigilant throughout this endeavor.
He expressed concerns about China's per capita arable land area, which is only 0.09 hectares, one-third of the world average.
"The demand for land for industrialization and urbanization remains high, posing a great challenge for farmland protection," he told Xinhua.
By the end of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), China aims to protect 124 million hectares of arable land, he said.
"It is also crucial to manage the relationship between farmers and land. It is essential to ensure that farmers can share more benefits," he was quoted as saying.
"The government must be patient, respect the wishes of farmers and ensure the public ownership of the land and the interests of farmers."