What is Happening in China’s Countryside?
We actually talked about this with a couple of our guides. All over China, children of farmers are going to the cities and to the factory provinces to work at city jobs or factory jobs because they pay more. This leaves huge areas of farmland unattended and unfarmed. The move away from farming and into desk and manufacturing jobs, is beginning to have an impact on food production. Central China appears to have very productive and fertile land, and the farmers who have been working it for centuries seem well versed and committed to an organic model. They save seeds, rotate crops on their tiny (600 square meters) plots, do not use pesticides or chemical fertilizers, and do ALL of the work by human hands, no cattle, no tractors. Except in northern Yunnan, were people plow with yaks or small tractors.
I really wonder what will happen to China if the family farms fail. Particularly worrisome as Chinese newspapers said they are already importing some staggering percentage of their rice consumption from the US. . .
It would be a great trip to bring some small organic and near-organic farmers from the US to meet some of the Chinese family farmers and share ideas and techniques and attempt some problem solving.