As one of the world's largest grain consumers, food security has always been a major concern for the Chinese nation. China must confront the challenge of feeding a fifth of the world's population with less than 9 percent of the planet's arable land.
In 2011, China's grain output recorded growth for the eighth successive year, and total production reached an all-time high of 571 million tons.
In terms of food security, China's goal is to maintain a self-sufficiency rate of above 95 percent. However, an annual net population growth of 7.39 million and the effective decline of the area of farmland in the country, as a result of urbanization, make achieving such self-sufficiency a serious challenge.
Given the heavy burden placed on Chinese agriculture, constantly raising productivity by relying on scientific and technological progress has become a priority for China's agricultural sector. The Ministry of Agriculture, for example, has worked to raise China's annual grain yield per-unit area by 1 percent, on average, over the past decade.
Last year, the contributory rate of scientific and technological development to China's agriculture reached 52 percent, surpassing the contribution made by land, labor and other production factors for the first time in history.
But to attain the goal of increasing the contributory rate of scientific and technological development to agriculture to above 58 percent by 2015 remains an arduous task.
Currently, there is a glaring gap between the country's relatively low expenditure on agricultural research and development and its enormous need in this regard.
In recent years, the public investment in agricultural science and technology only accounted for 0.25 percent of the total GDP of the agriculture sector, far below the international average of 1 percent.
Insufficient government investment has also resulted in the low uptake of newly developed farming techniques. From 2001 to 2005, just 35 percent of agricultural research and development achievements were applied in production. That figure went up to 41 percent between 2006 and 2010, but was still just half of that in developed countries.
In response to these obstacles, the Chinese Government has pledged to increase its investment in agricultural science and technology year on year. In addition, more policies supporting the development and popularization of new farming techniques are set to be unveiled soon.
A much powerful growth engine of science and technology will make a great difference for China's agriculture.
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