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China orders cities to stop consuming farmland

Fourteen Chinese cities with populations over five million are now required to protect nearby farmland to enhance food security. (The United States Army Band/flickr/cc)

China’s cities have mushroomed in recent years by devouring vast tracts of agricultural land for development. Mandy Zuo reports for the South China Morning Post that Chinese officials want cities to lose their appetites for farms.

Cropland that totals half the size of Germany was lost to urbanization from 1996 to 2009, according to a national land survey, the article says.

The ministries of agriculture and land and resources jointly announced plans last week to create arable belts around cities that are off-limits to developers. The goal is to ensure food security. As cities increasingly extend into surrounding fields, farmers are forced to shift production to less desirable locations, such as swampland or mountainous regions, the article explains.

Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Wuhan and Shenyang are among the 14 cities with populations over five million in the first round of participants. They have until the end of 2016 to comply with the directive, which would then expand to more cities. 

South China Morning Post

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