Luncheon Research Seminar: Food, Farms and Fields in China 2030 - The Role of Agriculture in a Modernizing Society
School of Economics and Management
Author: Luc Christiaensen (The World Bank)
Area: Sustainable Development
Abstract: China's success in feeding its population and lifting its farmers out of poverty over the past thirty years has been nothing less than remarkable. But new challenges have presented themselves and old ones are resurfacing. First, farmers' incomes are ever more struggling to keep up with non-farm incomes—agriculture’s “farm (income) problem”, undermining social and political harmony and putting its smallholder model under pressure. Second, rising water scarcity and land degradation are rendering China's current agricultural intensification model unsustainable, saddling it with a rapidly growing "field problem". Finally, two bouts of double-digit food price inflation over the past three years suggest that aggregate domestic food supply is struggling again to keep up with rapidly rising demand, testing its ambitions of cereal self sufficiency and hinting at a resurgence of the “food problem”. But, as urbanization and income growth induce more protein rich (meat, dairy) and diversified (fruits and vegetables) diets, new opportunities also open up, as their production is more remunerative and less land and water intensive and provided they are managed well. Against this background, a vision for China’s agriculture 2030 will be advanced. Robust and broad based growth in agriculture provided the backbone for China's take-off in 1978. How China will shape its agriculture in addressing these new (and re-emerging) challenges—the farm and field and food problems—will be equally consequential in determining its success in fulfilling its ambition of becoming a modern, harmonious and high income society by 2030.
Ph.D. Luc Christiaensen, DECPI, World Bank
Room E422, Universitätsplatz 1 - piazza Università, 1, Bozen-Bolzano