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What Will Farmers Grow in 1999?

BEIJING REVIEW, May 31, 1999

A State Statistics Bureau investigation of production plans of nearly 50,000 farming households in more than 800 counties found the total growing area for farm crops will reach 156 million hectares this year, a rise of  900,000 hectares, or 0.6 percent, on last year.

1. Stable sowing area for grain, with, a regulated product mix.

The investigation results indicate that some 114 million hectares of farmland will be planted with grain, up 35,000 hectares (or 0.03 percent). The acreage for summer grain will be cut by 300,000 hectares. In terms of variety, the area for rice will rise by 110,000 hectares, with that planted to middle-season and one-crop late rice increasing by 180,000 hectares and that for early and two-crop rice, drop ping by 55,000 hectares and 15,000 hectares respectively. The area planted with wheat will rise by 130,000 hectares, with that for spring wheat by 440,000 hectares. The area for corn and sorghum will increase by 1.1. million hectares and 30,000 hectares respectively, while that for millet by 30,000 bectares and for other cereal crops by 240,000 hectares. The area for potatoes will increase by 135,000 hectares, while that for beans will be reduced by l.2 million hectares.

This suggests the product mix of grain crops will become more rational. While the acreage for early and two-crop rice, which has a relatively poor quality and low economic return, is to be reduced, that for middle-season and one-crop late rice will continue to expand to meet market demand. The expanded growing area for corn and potatoes is due to the continuous growth in economic returns brought about by high output. The decline in the beans acreage is chiefly attributed to increased imports in recent years, which has resulted in the relatively low price for soybean in thedomestic market.

2. Price decline and reduced growing area for cotton.

The acreage for cotton this year will be reduced by 145,000 hectares to 4.3 million hectares. The planting area will be cut in eight of China’s 10 major cotton-producing areas with an annual ‘output exceeding 100,000 tons, with a reduction of 25.8 percent in Sichuan, 17.3 percent in Jiangsu, 11.7 percent in Jiangxi, 10.8 percent in Hunan, 6.6 percent in Hubei, 3.5 percent in Xinjiang, 1.7 percent in Anhui and 0.8 percent in Henan. This is mainly due to the Government’s macro-policy regulation and control.

3. Expanded area for oil-bearing crops.

This year, the area planted to oil-bearing crops will reach 13.64 million hectares, up 700,000 hectares on 1998, with that for peanut increasing by 100,000 hectares and rapeseed by 460,000  hectares, both an all-time high. In addition, the area for sunflower seeds, sesame and flax seeds will increase by 100,000 hectares, 35,000 hectares and 5,000 hectares respectively. The expansion of the acreage for oil-bearing crops is mainly due to price rises.

4. Decline in areas for sugar-bearing crops, hemp and tobacco, and increase in areas for medicinal herbs.

The acreage for sugar-bearing crops will be cut by 270,000 hectares, with that for sugarcane declining by  45 000 hectares and sugar beet by 225,000 hectares.

The area planted to hemp family products will continue to decline, down 35,000 hectares from last year. In terms of variety, the area for jute and bluish dogbane will be cut by 11,000 hectares, and hemp by 8,000 hectares and hemp by 11,000 hectares.

Owing to serious overstocking and the price decline of tobacco in recent years, the planting area will continue to decrease, down 210,000 hectares from last year. The total area, 1.16 million hectares, will equal the level in the mid-1980s.

The growing area for medicinal herbs will increase by 20,000 hectares.

5. Continuous increase in the acreage for vegetables, melons and other farm crops.

With the improvement in living standards, the Chinese people increasingly demand vegetables,   stimulating expansion of the growing area. This year, the area planted to vegetables and melons is expected to expand by 540,000 hectares and 120,000 hectares respectively. The growing area for other farm crops will increase by 145,000 hectares.

Planned Sowing Areas for Farm Crops                      
                                1999       Increase on
                         (1,000 hectares)    1998 (%) 
Total                         156336           0.6
1. Grain                      113822           0.03
    (1) Cereals                93217           1.2
        Rice                   31324           0.4
        Wheat                  29904           0.4
        Corn                   26339           4.4
        Millet                  1380          -2.1
        Sorghum                  999           3.1
        Other crops             3271          -6.8
    (2) Beans                  10471         -10.3
        Soybean                 7500         -11.8
    (3) Potatoes               10135           1.4
        Potato                  4146           2.5
2. Oil-bearing crops           13638           5.4
   Peanut                       4156           2.5
   Rapeseed                     6987           7.0
3. Cotton                       4298          -3.3
4. Hemp                          194         -15.3
5. Sugar-bearing crops          1723         -13.6
6. Tobacco                      1163         -15.3
   Cured tobacco                1015         -16.5
7. Medicinal herbs               378           5.6
8. Vegetables and melons       14197           4.9
   Vegetables                  12433           4.5
   Melons                       1764           7.3
9. Other farm crops             6923           2.1
   Green fodder                 1850           1.4