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  Agriculture Science and Technology

Development of Science and Technology for Sustainable Agriculture
(From White Paper on Agriculture)

Basis for action

China has a long history of using traditional agricultural techniques, but modern agricultural science and technology is far from being technically well developed and in widespread use. This situation has already restricted the sustainable agricultural development and resulted in unfavourable repercussions on efforts made for the protection of agricultural environments.

Sustainable agricultural science and technology mainly refers to highly productive, high quality, efficient and resource-saving (water, energy and fodder) techniques and expertise for agricultural production. It also refers to techniques for species development and improvement, to biological or other pest-control expertise and to technology appropriate for the protection and improvement of the environment.

To achieve the objectives of highly productive, high quality, efficient food production, in addition to increasing inputs of materials for production, scientific and technical expertise should be fully utilized to improve efficiency of production and to maintain sustainable agricultural development.


Efforts should be made to study, develop, and extensively utilize agricultural technologies for resource conservation, for high yielding and high quality production and for environmental protection. Technology for agricultural and food processing should also be developed to provide more and safe food.


Assessments for sustainability should be conducted on agricultural technologies currently being used to evaluate resource utilization rates, product quantity and quality, and environmental impacts. Techniques which are conducive to sustainable production should be applied extensively, and inappropriate practices should be abandoned.

Technology for improving the efficiency of agricultural materials should be studied and extensively utilized. By the year 2000, efficiency in the use of chemical fertilizers and water should increase from the current 35% to 40-45%. Efficiency in the use of agricultural machinery should exceed 40%. Efficiency in the use of oil and electricity should be also improved.

Biological technology should be used to develop new high quality, highly productive and non- degenerating animal and plant breeds to enrich the sources of new breeds, and to strengthen the research and development of generic breeding techniques. The breeding system for selection and nursing of new species should be established and improved so as to ensure their purity and maximum usability.

Research should be conducted for the comprehensive control of severe plant diseases and pests, as well as on forecasting techniques. Biological pesticides should be developed to reduce damages caused by plant diseases and pests;

The study and development of sustainable technologies should be actively promoted. They should particularly receive more support in terms of financial allocations, equipment and facilities. At the same time, basic research on scientific and technological knowledge for sustainable agricultural development should be strengthened and the potential for scientific and technical research should be developed. Research should also focus on the decision-making system and techniques for rural and agricultural sustainable development.

A sound and effective system for the utilization of agricultural technologies should be established, and the role of local agricultural extension centres for expanding new agricultural technologies should be brought into full play. Networks of advisory services should be developed in order to train a large number of skilled agricultural technicians.


Science and Technology in Agriculture and Animal Husbandry

Agriculture has witnessed stable development thanks to application of science and technology. Tibet now has 225,000 hectares of cultivated land. With the development of modern agroscience and technology, the traditional farming method has been replaced by modern techniques, such as introducing improved strains, improving soil quality, building water conservancy projects, harnessing rivers, intensive cultivation, rational application of chemical fertilizers and agricultural chemicals. Gone are the days when Lamas were asked to pray for insects in the fields to be killed.

In 1990, the region carried out a project to establish four science and technology demonstration counties (cities) -- Gyangze, Xigaze, Lhunzhub and Gonggar. Their combined sown area of more than 30,000 hectares for grain crops accounted for 16.1 percent of the region's total. Grain yield totaled 152.7 million kg, equalling 27.5 percent of the total, an increase of 24.6 percent or 30 million kg over the previous year. Moreover, grain output reached a record of 50 million kg in Gyangze and Xigaze. The 1995 total grain output in Tibet registered 700 million kg. All these, achieved without adding more cultivated land, would have been impossible without the contribution of science and technology.

While promoting agroscientific research, efforts have been made to breed improved seeds, transform the cultivation system, obtain a detailed survey of agricultural resources and soil, investigate the land use situation, develop a systematic cultivation, transform medium- and low-yield farmland, and popularize agrotechniques for dry-land farming. The popularization of winter wheat planting, for example, is an important step forward. The efforts made in changing the old cultivation system, spreading improved strains and increasing grain production have brought fundamental changes in agricultural production, and moreover, laid a solid foundation for successive bumper grain harvests.

In 1977, the region's total grain output exceeded 500 million kg. At the same time, scientific workers also recorded tremendous progress in improving basic soil fertility through biotechnological means, the use of fertilizers, and comprehensive prevention and control of plant weeds, diseases and insect pests. Research results such as the Survey of Agriculture-related Weeds, Diseases and Insect Pests and Their Natural Enemy Resources in Tibet and the Collections of Tibetan Crops Resources won awards for science and technology progress from the state and the autonomous region respectively. Studies on Comprehensive Survey and Use of Land Resources in the Tibet Autonomous Region filled vital gaps in knowledge of available land resources on the plateau, leading to the first establishment of the alpine soil order and classification of the soil system throughout the plateau.

Research results, which attained advanced international level, won a special prize for science and technology progress from the autonomous region in 1993 and a second-class prize from the state in 1995. The Study on Systematic Cultivation Techniques for High-Yield Wheat Crops was demonstrated in areas in the Yarlung Zangbo, Lhasa, Nyang Qu and Nyang river valleys. Based on regional cultivation and systematic management, the experiments integrated study with demonstration and popularization to create systematic scientific research materials.

Three years of research covered 77,200 hectares of systematic cultivated area which produced per-hectare grain yield of 5,500 kg per season. The result was a total increase of over 101.67 million kg of grain, producing more than 60.51 million yuan of net income. In particular, the study of systematic cultivation of winter and spring qingke barley produced tangible economic, social and ecological returns.

In the final decade of this century, Tibet is undertaking a significant Three-River Project--comprehensive development of the middle reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo, Lhasa and Nyang rivers, which will cost 1 billion yuan from the state. From 1991 to June 1995, the state had invested a total of 507.5 million yuan, and nearly 80 projects were completed, laying a solid foundation for further development. A decade of efforts will create four bases for commercial grain; light industry, textiles and handicrafts; livestock products, vegetables and non-staple foods; and scientific and technological demonstration. Ecological and economic returns in the area will reach a high level. This long-term program, the largest ever in Tibet, will have far-reaching socio-economic significance.

Nowadays, the region's agricultural production has largely been mechanized, with the aggregate power of farm machinery exceeding 500,000 kw. The per-capita power of farmers is nearly 0.6 kw, a rate close to the average for inland rural areas. The mechanized ploughed area accounts for 25 percent of the region's total, and the sown area 65 percent, both equivalent to inland rural levels. Tibet today has abandoned backward and primitive agriculture to form an initial system based on modern science and technology.

One of the five large pastoral areas in the country, Tibet boasts 82.07 million hectares of grassland, 70.77 million hectares of which can be used to raise various kinds of domestic animals totalling 22.8 million. Animal husbandry is a basic and vital industry for the local economy and the growing prosperity of Tibetan people. Livestock products are key materials for both national handicraft and processing industries, and an important source of export earnings. Over the past four decades, the government has paid great attention to livestock farming. Scientific research has achieved major results in selecting and breeding animal varieties, training veterinary surgeons and building up the grasslands.

Yaks, a symbol of highland animal husbandry, have long been trained on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and are deeply loved as a totem of Tibetan ethnic group. In return, yaks, as highland treasures, are raising the Tibetan people. In recent years, however, the variety of yaks has seriously deteriorated, directly influencing output and quality. Therefore, much effort has gone into seeking improvements. Linzhou County, in particular, is playing a key role in the test and manufacture of frozen yak semen, as well as the study and practice of selective breeding, in the process creating 614,000 yuan of profits. The economic returns are of great significance to Tibetan livestock farming.

The spread of the Lhasa white chicken has solved the reproductive problem of high-yield egg-laying chickens under highland conditions and formed an ideal egg-oriented breed. These efforts have solved the supply problem of egg and chicken meat, enriching the diet and improving people's lives. Science and technology in animal husbandry has made an important contribution to the region's poultry husbandry.

A breakthrough has been made in the study of the anal skin cancer in goat, opening a new way to cure skin cancer of domestic animals with medicinal herbs.

In the light of actual local conditions, scientific workers have given priority to the grass sector to introduce improved herbage and fodder, providing rich and reliable materials for artificial planting of forage grass. More than 1,000 hectares of land have been planted to help solve grass shortages in winter and spring.

In addition, cattle raising has a long history in Tibet. It has a multiple use of milk, meat and working. Tangible results have been made in improving the variety and raising production properties since 1960. The creating of fine breeds has opened the way for the people to become prosperous. The breeding of half-fine-wooled sheep has laid a solid foundation for creating a new variety. Production of formula feed has begun. Fish meal and additive production has bridged gaps in Tibetan fodder science and technology. The work of animal protection has basically reached the standard level.

The Contribution of Science and Technology to Agriculture

In the agricultural sci-tech sphere, China has constantly narrowed its gap with the advanced countries. The contribution rate of scientific and technological progress to China's agriculture has increased from 20 percent in 1949 to 42 percent. The agricultural sci-tech departments have made much progress in bio-technology, new and high technology and basic research, and the cultivation of plant cells and tissues, anther culture, haploid breeding and the research on its application have reached the world's advanced level. Bilinear hybrid rice, hybrid corn breeding, and multi-crop planting technologies featuring intensive cultivation have reached or approached the world's advanced level. In addition, an important breakthrough has been made in the research of making use of the advantages of hybrid beans.

In February 2001, the Chinese scientist Yuan Longping was given the state highest sci-tech award. His research achievements in hybrid rice have rewritten the Chinese history of the cultivation of rice in the second half of the 20th century, and made outstanding contributions to solving the issue of mankind's "grain ratio". Since 1949, China's agricultural scientists have improved more than 40 kinds of crops, and developed nearly 5,000 high-yield, good-quality new varieties with strong resistance. Thus the major farm crops have been renovated four to five times, each renovation increasing yields by 10 to 30 percent. The per-ha yield of grain crops has increased from 1.16 tons in 1950 to 4.82 tons, an increase of more than four times.

The relevant state departments have organized the implementation of the sci-tech programs directly geared to the rural economic development, such as the Spark Program, the Promotion Plan of Important Achievements, the Bumper Harvest Plan, and the Prairie Fire Program, to send advanced sci-tech achievements to the countryside and to farmers' homes, thus playing an important role in improving farmers' sci-tech quality.

Meanwhile, agricultural departments have imported more than 100,000 farm crops and nursery stocks from different countries and regions of the world, and cultivated new varieties of rice, corn and wheat. Plastic film mulching, dry breeding of rice seedlings and their sparse planting, new farm tools and farm pesticides and other advanced technologies have been extensively applied in production.


Sponsor:Department of International Cooperation Ministry of Science and Technoplogy PRC
Maintenance:China Science & Technology Exchange Center
Technical support:Intergrated Information System Research Center Institute of Automation Chinese Academy of Science