Authorities in Guangdong are planning to reclaim land from the sea and hillsides to boost arable land banks by 2.5 million mu (165,000 hectares) over the next five years, a government official said on Monday.
Speaking at a press conference on efficient and intensive land use, Zhao Yufang, director of the provincial land and resources department, said the government will allocate 4 billion yuan ($584 million) to the project.
The idea is to reclaim land in coastal regions such as Zhanjiang, and from hillsides in the province," she said.
"Guangdong province has only 0.45 mu of arable land per capita, less than a third of the national average, and less than a 10th of the world average," she said.
"We want to increase that figure to ensure we have sufficient land for agricultural development."
Arable land banks in the province have dwindled significantly in recent decades as a result of rapid industrialization, Zhao said.
Guangdong will need about 400,000 mu of land for industrial development for each of the next 15 years, far above the annual quota of 290,000 mu imposed by the central government, she said.
"Guangdong must learn to use every inch of its land efficiently."
As well as taking land from the sea and hillsides, other plots that have been leased but as yet undeveloped will be reclaimed over the next five years, she said.
Almost 9,900 plots of undeveloped land covering 23,000 hectares were identified last year, of which more than 4,000 (10,000 hectares) have been reclaimed, she said.
The provincial government has urged all city authorities to protect arable land and maintain a strict watch on the approval of new land for industrial development.
"Newly leased land will be primarily used for projects that will play a role in boosting the local economy," Zhao said.
Li Qingqing, an associate professor of economics with South China Normal University, said Guangdong province should promote its hi-tech and tertiary industries, which do not require the same amount of land as manufacturing.
This is particularly relevant in the Pearl River Delta region, where the manufacturing industry has boomed over the past 30 years, she said.
Reclaiming land from the sea is a good idea, she said.
"The province has 3,000 km of coastline, which means there is plenty of land to reclaim."
Source: China Daily