China farmland declared unfit for raising crops

China announced contaminated farmland, the size of Belgium, is unsafe for growing crops.

More than 2% of China’s farmland is too polluted to plant, according to China’s Vice Minister of Land and Resources, Wang Shiyuan.

In Dec. 30 press conference, Wang said the results of China’s latest land survey showed about 3.33 million hectares are not safe for growing crops.

Currently, China has 135.4 million hectares of farmland, however, the amount of cultivated land will drop to 120 million hectares. Wang said the decline in total amount of farmland will be due to the conversion of acres to forests, grassland and wetlands in addition to unusable polluted land.

Citing a “state secret”, Wang declined to disclose the results of the five-year land study, which was conducted from 2006 to 2010.

In May 2013, inspectors in the Guangdong province found excessive levels of cadmium in rice sold in the capital city of Guangzhou. The rice was grown in Hunan, a main metal-producing region.

Each year the central government will earmark billions to rehabilitate farmland tainted heavily with metals but specific details were not given by Wang.

In the briefing, Wang said the government will spend “tens of billions of Yuan” annually to pilot projects aimed at cleaning up contaminated land and water aquifers.

Most areas with medium to heavily polluted farmland are located in the developed central and eastern regions, a long with the northeastern industrial belt.

According to Ren Tianzhi, director of the Agro-Environmental Protection Institute under the Ministry of Agriculture, contaminated farmland is also a result of excessive use of pesticides and feed additives in addition to the heavy metals from industry.

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