Revisiting subsidies for soil health and sustainable agriculture
Soil degradation and pollution is big problem in China. Not only does it have a tremendous impact on the environment, but it also undermines the productivity and profitability of farming and the resilience of croplands. A government-conducted a survey in 2014 showed that almost a fifth of the country’s farmland was contaminated to varying degrees by organic and inorganic chemical pollutants, mining residues, and heavy metals. That amounts to roughly 250,000 square kilometers of contaminated soil, equivalent to the arable farmland of Mexico. Several policies and subsidy programs aim to address the issue. However, to date, there is little evidence if and to what extent these government subsidies and other policy measures on sustainable agriculture actually benefitted soil health.
In partnership with The Nature Conservancy (TNC)’s China office and other partners, we have been assessing the effectiveness and impact of government subsidies on soil health and 'green' agricultural development in China. The three studies below examine how agricultural subsidies and other forms of incentives over the past ten years were implemented on the ground. They also evaluate the extent of farmers' behavior changes.