Since the introduction of artificial fertilizers and pesticides in the 1980’s, China’s farming has caused animal and plant ecosystems around China to decline, some beyond repair. Although agriculture productivity is at an all time high, it has come with a huge environmental impact. Lakes are being plagued by dense algae, killing the valuable fish that thrive in these lakes.
As China’s ecosystems are harmed, China’s demand for agriculture has surpassed its supply. In 2012, China imported more than 60% of the world’s soybeans to feed the growing demand for livestock consumption. As China’s demand continues to outpace supply, food prices around the world will increase rapidly, hurting consumers around the world. [The Prof: the poorest of the poor globally live in rural areas, we suffer from an urban and an OECE bias in which food production is irrelevant to most of the population.]
National policy must aim to educate farmers to apply fertilizer and pesticides in correct quantities and the right time of year, dispose human and cattle sewage properly, reduce the chemicals getting into streams and rivers, and control fish feed. These policies are difficult for China to implement because Chinese farmers are general poor, badly educated and aging. The Chinese government has been drawing the younger and more educated workers away from farms and into big cities.
To address this issue, China must create a program to disseminate information from government agencies to local farmers more effectively. Educational programs for farmers will allow Chinese agriculture to become more sustainable.
Source: Dearing, John. “China Farming Boom Has Left Ecosystems in Danger of Total Collapse.” The Conversation, 26 Feb. 2015.