China's arable land has decreased to less than 102.4 million hectares as a result of the overuse of farmland, the overseas edition of the People's Daily said on Monday.
Vice Minister of Land and Resources Lu Xinshe has called for efforts to protect farmland to ensure the country's food security.
27 Of the country's provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions face the problem of decreasing farmland and 16 have farmland areas below the quota set by the nation's overall plan for land use.
The vice minister said that China's grain output should increase to over 500 million tons by 2010 to ensure food security and to 600 million tons by 2030.
From 1996 to 2004, China's arable land shrank from 130 million hectares to 122 million hectares. At the same time, China's population has been growing by 10 million annually on average. China has to feed 22 percent of the world population on only 7 percent of the total arable land.
Last year, China's grain production hit 469.5 million tons, 38.8 million tons or 9 percent more than the previous year, the biggest ever annual growth rate.
Zone project aims to help arable land yield more
China will take a firmer stance on arable land protection in the next five years to ensure that enough grain is planted to feed its 1.3 billion people.
More than 100 zones to protect farmland will be built in the next five years, covering 667,000 hectares, according to land and resources officials who addressed a working conference on farmland protection on Friday in Shijiazhuang, capital of North China's Hebei Province.
The zones will get more funds and technical support to upgrade farmland working efficiency and increase output, said Sun Wensheng, minister of land and resources.