China's Agricultural Development: Adaptation in Action
Full Case Study (PDF, 860 Kb)
The 3H Plain is a critical part of China’s agricultural economy. It contains 26% of the country’s arable land and represents almost one third (32.8%) of all the land under cultivation. At the same time, this is an area of China that is already water stressed; per capita availability was one third of the national average and only one half of UN standards.
When it became clear that climate change, in the form of increased temperatures and decreased rainfall, was impacting the future of agriculture, the government took action. Initially, the response came through a World Bank financed project beginning in 2004 that focused on improving irrigation in the region. World Bank project funding was supplemented in 2006 with a GEF grant dedicated to mainstreaming climate change adaptation into the agricultural sector in the 3H area.
Experts introduced a new variety of wheat in the area, but adoption took several growing seasons. Government-led pilot programs introducing new techniques to better manage irrigation water took hold after farmers saw benefits. Also, the formation of water users associations and the involvement of a prominent women’s’ organization provided forums to tell farmers about climate change impacts and to introduce training in new techniques. Initial outcomes include: the introduction of new wheat varieties more resistant to future growing conditions; major improvements in irrigation that reduces run-off as well as evaporation; and altered planting calendars to take advantage of changing conditions. The CAD continues to monitor farm activities in the area, as well as climate conditions to be able to help farmers make adjustments if necessary.
About the Authors:
Lanying Wang is is a senior water engineer and currently the Division Chief of the World Bank Project Management Division in the State Office of Comprehensive Agriculture Development under the Ministry of Finance in China. She has about 15 years experience on the project design and implementation management for the comprehensive agriculture development projects including the climate change adaptation and mitigation in irrigated agriculture sector in China, especially for the management of the World Bank, GEF, and the other international trust fund (TF) projects. Before 1997, she worked in the Information Research Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower under the Ministry of Water Resources in China for more than ten years, and focused on the practical study related to the new technologies and best practices in the world in water resources and irrigation management sector. She was a visiting research fellow in International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in USA in 2008, and has a bachelor degree in irrigation and drainage from the Water Resources and Hydropower University of North China.
Qun Li is a Senior Operations Officer and Task Team Leader with the World Bank. She is currently working in the Water Sector for the Middle East and North Africa Region, and was previously in the Social, Environmental and Rural development Sector of East Asia and Pacific Region. She has about 20 years of experience working on World Bank lending operations, much of it focused on a multi-sectoral project approach to rural and agriculture development, water resources and water saving irrigation development and management, rural institutional development for farmer water user association and farmer cooperative, and more recently climate change adaptation and mitigation in rural water and agricultural development. She had worked extensively with technical line agencies and ministries for agriculture and rural water, especially in China, Vietnam, the Philippines, and recently in Egypt. She was previously employed by the Economic Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture, Water Resource Management, Inc. in USA, and the Economic Research Institute of the Shanghai Academy of Social Science in China. She has a Masters degree in Agricultural and Applied Economics from the University Minnesota, and some 8 years of direct rural and agriculture farming experience in China in the early 1970s.
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