According to the World Bank, in 2012 China had a total GDP of 8.227 trillion US dollars, making it the world’s second largest economy after the United States. Agricultural industry plays a very large part within China’s GDP. It contributes 9.6% towards China’s total GDP and employs 39.5% of China’s workforce. The arable land in china supports over 20% of the world’s population. China is currently the world’s largest producer and consumer of agricultural products. China’s grain production has increased for nine consecutive years. The government credits science and technology advancements for the increase in production of agricultural products. Incomes for Chinese farmers have also been on the rise. In the last three years, incomes of some farmers have exceeded incomes of some workers in urban areas, where pay is known to be significantly higher.
China produces many very important crops such as wheat, peanuts, potatoes, cotton and barley, however, rice is by far China’s most important crop. Rice is grown on approximately 25% of the arable land. China is also a lead producer of cotton. Cotton is grown throughout the country, but crops are mostly found in Northern China or along rivers. Nonetheless, it is not just crops that farmers in China grow. China also has a very large livestock population. Pigs and fowl are among the most common meat exports.
Despite, the growing success of agriculture in China, industrialisation and development has caused China to loose about 8.3 million hectares of arable land which is about 6.5% of the country’s total arable land. This has mostly happened in very fertile regions along the coast where urbanisation has thrived. Since the 1990’s, rising incomes along with better qualities of life has lead to a higher demand for nutritious and protein-rich food’s such as eggs, meat, fish, fruit and dairy products. The consumption of these food products are likely to increase significantly due to the expected increase in higher-income earners which will create a higher demand, putting even more pressure on the national food supply. Meat production went up by 50% between 1996 and 2007, egg production went up by 30% and milk production went up by 200%.
In recent years there has been an increasing feminisation of the agricultural industry. This is due to a large number of men migration to urban areas to find better-paid work. Women now account for 70-80% of the agricultural labour force in most rural areas. These women are likely to have limited education due to living in such poor regions.
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