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China targets zero growth in chemical fertiliser use in 2020

Wednesday, March 18, 2015 - 12:40
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China, the world's top producer of rice and wheat, is targeting zero growth in the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides by 2020 to avoid further contamination of its farmland, the official Xinhua news agency reported late on Tuesday.

[BEIJING] China, the world's top producer of rice and wheat, is targeting zero growth in the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides by 2020 to avoid further contamination of its farmland, the official Xinhua news agency reported late on Tuesday.

Wide use of chemical fertilisers, of which China is the biggest consumer, has boosted its agricultural output and kept the world's most populous country largely self-sufficient in grains, but it has also threatened food safety. "Overuse of chemical fertiliser has increased costs and damaged the agriculture ecological environment," Zeng Yande, a department director with the agriculture ministry, was quoted as saying at the launch of a chemical reduction plan.

China accounts for a little over a fifth of the world's total grain output, while its use of chemical fertiliser is more than a third of global consumption and equivalent to the total use by the United States and India combined, said Xinhua.

Annual growth in the use of chemical fertilisers will be capped below 1 per cent from 2015 to 2019, it said, with no growth slated for 2020.

China's use of chemical fertiliser grew by an average 5.2 per cent a year over the past three decades, reaching 59 million tonnes in 2013, Xinhua said. Its use versus output is 2.6 times that of the United States and 2.5 times that of the European Union, it said.

Overuse of fertiliser is the main reason for soil acidification in China, Zhang Fusuo, a professor at the China Agricultural University, was cited as saying.

China will use more organic fertiliser, currently not fully utilised, to help boost grain output, said Mr Zeng, who did not expect the switch to threaten the country's food security.

REUTERS