Eco-Industrial Parks in China
China's achievement | Elements of the Initiative | Regional Alliances
AEIP as Hub | Chinese Ecological Agriculture | Rebuilding soil
The International Center for
Sustainable Development (ICSD, a US-based NGO active in China and other
countries) and the Environmental Education Media Project for China
(EEMPC) in Beijing are proposing an initiative to develop an Agro
Eco-Industrial Park in an appropriate region of China. The purpose of
this eco-park will be to provide a base for companies and service
organizations to support the rural population in achieving a transition
to fully sustainable and organic farming and to develop revenues above
the poverty level. Indigo Development is supporting this initiative as
a strategic partner applying industrial ecology and eco-industrial
We have generated interest in the initiative and willingness to make commitments of support from officials in several different regions of China, 1) Jinan, the capital of Shandong Province, and a Chishang Township, low income village in Zibo; 2) Xiuyan in central Liaoning Province; 3) Huangshi in Hubei Province; and 4) Hainandao in Southern China.
The park would be developed and operated as a public private partnership, including Chinese and international partners. It would be home to food processing and distribution companies, equipment manufacturers, energy generators and manufacturers using rural and urban biomass discards, an organic agriculture training and research center, and a demonstration farm.
Overseas companies in organic food processing and distribution and organic farming support industries would enjoy special incentives and assistance in entering this market in one of China’s most productive farming provinces.
The agro-eco-industrial park would provide a home base for food processing and value added production companies, marketing cooperatives, a sustainable agriculture training center, and a demonstration farm. Through this AEIP infrastructure, poor farmers would learn farming practices to improve the value of their output and gain marketing channels to domestic and international markets. Through the training and research programs the eco-industrial park would coordinate with regional watershed and land use management, ecological restoration, soil restoration, and economic development programs.
ICSD and EEMPC are seeking seed funding to cover the costs of evaluating the different possible locations to determine their feasibility for demonstrating poverty reduction through sustainable farming; recruiting critical private and public sector stakeholders; taking a small expert team to visit potential sites and conduct workshops with stakeholders, and assess overall feasibility of the Agro Eco-Industrial Park and the broader initiative. Seed funding would be a grant to the International Center for Sustainable Development, a 501(3)ctax-exempt organization registered in Maryland. The grant will be shared between ICSD and EEMPC.
A significant minority of China’s
farmers, several research institutes, and food processing companies are
seeking to blend the best of traditional farming practices with
appropriate modern technology to support sustainable farming.
A significant minority of China’s farmers, several research institutes, and food processing companies are seeking to blend the best of traditional farming practices with appropriate modern technology to support sustainable farming.
The International Center for Sustainable Development (a US-based NGO active in China) and the Environmental Education Media Project for China in Beijing are proposing an initiative to hasten the transition to sustainable, organic farming and to seize the export and domestic market opportunities now open. This initiative would go forward as a public private partnership drawing upon Chinese, North and South American, and European resources.
It will be critical to attract partners aligned with both the business success of the project and the social goal of preserving small to mid-scale farming as a viable part of the regional rural economy. Equally, appropriate partners will be those supporting the long-term ecological restoration of the agrarian environment. Fortunately, the Chinese Ecological Agriculture program mentioned above provides an indigenous approach that marries these three goals. It’s application will be supported by US and European best practices in food growing and processing and ecosystem restoration, as well as agroecology practices in developing countries.
initiative will integrate these basic elements:
This is an ambitious initiative, taking an approach of regional rural and urban economic development integrated with restoration of major natural systems. Fortunately development of the eco-industrial park offers a business-based center for generating the other elements outlined above. It creates value through the real estate development process, which becomes a basis for attracting both private capital and public investment.
Overseas companies in organic food processing and distribution and organic farming support industries would enjoy special incentives and assistance in entering this market in t productive Chinese farming regions. Major markets such as the schools and hospitals, the hospitality industry, and airline and cruiseship companies would provide many bulk sales opportunities for such companies.
markets will enable a sustainable balance
between production for domestic consumption and production for export,
with avoidance of long-distance transport whenever possible. A recent
report on the nutritional status of children in China suggests that
consumption of organic food through school programs could constitute a
significant market and contribute to the health of young people.
shows the variety of producers and markets which would be linked by
firms and organizations at the Agro Eco-Industrial Park. The
certification and inspection authority now recognized internationally
in China is the Organic Food Development Centre. It is independent of
all other players and would certify both farm producers and processors
and distributors at the AEIP. A complementary set of linkages would
connect the AEIP into local and regional ecological conservation
and restoration programs.
Agriculture (CEA) is a village-based initiative for reducing the energy
intensity and environmental impacts of farming, improving productivity,
opening village economic development opportunities, and improving
quality of life. The State Environmental Protection Agency has led
implementation of the initiative for “a comprehensive agricultural
production system which is managed intensively according to the
principles of ecology and eco-economics.” (Sanders 2000, quoting a
Chinese EPA document.) CEA indicates that there is a significant
conceptual base that has been applied successfully for the
most successful CEA
projects integrate traditional ecologically sensitive farming practices
with rural community and economic development. Traditional practices
include ones familiar to organic farmers in developed countries, such
villages have also
the ideal of Chinese
Ecological Agriculture is a holistic approach that integrates organic
farming with village community and economic development. The best cases
have achieved notable improvements in the health of the ecological base
of farm land and water systems together with significant village
economic development and better quality of life.
the world farmers are
facing a drastic reduction in the productive capacity of soils.
Civilization depends on human stewardship of agricultural soils,
however, the productivity and health of the soil system is
deteriorating because of many interrelated forces. Therefore,
rebuilding soil quality is a critical component of the AEIP strategy.
research in China,
published in the New Scientist , postulates that a large-scale shift
from the production of rice and wheat to vegetables and fruit is having
an extremely negative impact on soil productivity and causing a
significant increase in pest and disease problems. A large-scale change
from growing grain to fruit and vegetables has forced adoption of
input-intensive agricultural techniques. The use of larger volumes of
irrigation water rather than rainfall increases the deposition of salts
in the soils.
use of large amounts of
chemical fertilizers and pesticides to produce large yields builds up
residues that affect the health and productivity of subsequent crops.
The increased air pollution from more and more coal-fired power plants
is contributing to the acidification of the water cycle and soils.
The reduction in the productivity of soils in China coupled with the large-scale conversion of farmland for industrial development reduces the ability of China to be agriculturally self-sufficient. The greatest danger is that this swift destruction of the capacity of soils to produce healthy crops is happening worldwide. This means that replacing lost production with imported food stocks will get more expensive and more difficult every year as more nations become net consumers and cease food exports.
Research Institute at
the Agro Eco-Industrial Park will seek to build a sustainable supply of
produce and meat by working to improve the health of agricultural
soils, water sources and ecosystems in the whole province. It will work
in alliance with the Nanjing Institute of Soil Science and local
planting of forest farms
of native and productive crops will begin to rebuild the forest
ecosystem. The rapid adoption of organic and sustainable farming
techniques will begin a process of biological improvement of the soils
that will improve productivity, watershed health, financial returns and
the movement to China’s food security.
reduction of trace
minerals and soil microorganisms is an issue that seriously cuts the
nutritional value of farm products. This can be addressed by the
addition of mined mineral supplements, the use of compost and other
organic fertility components.
All of these strategies need to be implemented in the context of seeing the soil as a living ecosystem that is the foundation for the farm as a managed ecosystem. This process takes time, during which it is vitally important to end the process of damaging the quality of soils and paving them for development. The long- term stewards of the soil are the farmers who are the key to changing practices and who will benefit from the improved infrastructure the AEIP and its Research Institute and Demonstration Farm will bring to its participants.
Dealing with acidification of water and soil from power plants requires adoption of clean coal technologies and pollution treatment in the short term and a rapid transition to sustainable nontoxic energy production systems, as is encouraged by China’s new Renewable Energy Law. The production off sustainable energy using agricultural byproducts will be a key contribution of the AEIP system and will reduce the need for imported petroleum.
future of the Province’s
agricultural system will be that of a province wide organic cultivation
system, coupled with conservation with best management practices
supported by a diversified mix of crops that provides superior
nutrition to Chinese markets and exports part of the production to a
world eager for a broad selection of fresh and value added organic
crops and meat products.
International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements http://www.ifoam.org
Richard Sanders. 2000. Prospects for Sustainable Development in the Chinese Countryside: The Political Economy of Chinese Ecological Agriculture, Ashgate Press, Aldershot UK.Youyong Zhu, Hairu Chen, Jinghua Fan, Yunyue Wang, Yan Li, Jianbing Chen, JinXiang Fan, Shisheng Yang, Lingping Hu, Hei Leung, Tom W. Mew, Paul S. Teng, Zonghua Wang, Christopher C. Mundt. 2000. “Genetic diversity and disease control in rice,” Nature Volume 406 Number 6797 Page 718 - 722 (2000) 17 August 2000.
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