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Farm pollution, fertilizer overuse targeted

Xu Wei
Updated: Mar 8,2017 7:10 AM     China Daily

China will launch campaigns to curb pollution from livestock and poultry farms, as well as the excessive use of fertilizers in horticulture, to fight pollution in rural areas, a top agricultural official said on March 7.

The Agriculture Ministry will kick off a campaign this year to treat pollution from animal excrement on livestock and poultry farms to improve the rural environment, Han Changfu, minister of agriculture, told a news conference on March 7 on the sidelines of the two sessions.

“We have made it a clear target that all the excrement from large-scale farms will either go through harm-free treatment or be reused as resources,” he said.

The excessive use of fertilizers in the horticultural sectors, such as cultivation of fruits and vegetables, will also be targeted as the authority tries to increase the use of organic fertilizers, he said.

More than 40 percent of fertilizers in China are used in horticulture, according to the ministry.

The ministry will aim for a 50 percent reduction by 2020 in the use of fertilizers in the cultivation of fruits, vegetables and tea, Han said.

The ministry will also launch a campaign to reduce the use of plastic mulch. Authorities will encourage farmers to use thicker mulch films that can be recycled more easily by machinery, he added.

Han also said the ministry will implement a fishing ban in aquatic life reserves in the Yangtze River and its tributaries this year, before launching an all-around fishing ban in the river and major tributaries.

The country will also seek to reduce the number of fishing boats in coastal areas by 20,000 and ensure that all fishermen along the Yangtze River will quit fishing as a way of living by 2020, he said.

Fishing nets with small mesh and those that often result in a higher percentage of bycatch will also be targeted by authorities to protect aquatic life, he said.

The country will continue to encourage research on genetically modified food and take prudent steps in commercial marketing procedures, said Zhang Taolin, vice-minister of agriculture.

The development of domestic technology and innovation will be prioritized. China will continue to follow the previously designed road map of GM technology development, which allows the commercial marketing of non-edible crop varieties first, before allowing the marketing of varieties that are indirectly edible. The marketing of directly edible varieties will come last, he said.

Cui Haixin, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, said the development of more high-technology fertilizers and pesticides that are environmentally friendly is the key to solving rural pollution problems. Cui, who is the country’s leading researcher on high-tech pesticide development said, “Authorities should also conduct more training to help farmers to improve the efficiency of usage and to prevent overuse.”