[ Xin Hua News, June 6, 2002 ] Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region recently introduced an important
move to transform the mode of production and management to
develop ecological animal husbandry.
"This signifies that the revolution of the mode of production
and management of animal husbandry has started," says
Xia Ri, a Vice Chairman of the Political Consultative Conference
of IMAR, as well as a Mongolian animal husbandry expert. "The
ongoing reform, however, is different than the previous ones,
as its starting point is to recover and protect the grassland
ecology, and to develop a highly beneficial modern animal
husbandry, rather than to seek the increase of the farming
The grassland which consists of 88 million hectares of natural
grass fields, is the largest in China. Another important move
was launched here earlier in the 1980s - contracted management
of grassland and privatization of herds. The move broke the
"big rice bowl" system of management and production
in pastoral areas, and therefore enjoys the same historical
significance as "the output-related system of contracted
responsibilities" that has been practiced in the agricultural
areas of China since.
However, the enthusiasm of production that was aroused by
the previous reform popularized all over the pastoral areas
of China, wasn't effectively controlled. This caused the number
of livestock to be doubled to 60 million over the last 20
years. Compared to its current condition, the grassland is
generally overloaded to twice its capacity. In addition, due
to the dry climate and the lack of investment in the rehabilitation
of grasslands, nearly half the natural grasslands of Inner
Mongolia have already been desertified or declined. Today,
animal husbandry in natural grasslands of Inner Mongolia is
close to the limit of its production capacity. Because of
this, plus the worsening ecology in general, the grassland
is becoming China's source of sand storms.
In brief, the goal of the reform program that the Inner Mongolian
government has recently publicized, is to let the livestock
"change their way of life" - from the natural herding
into shed-raising or semi shed-raising - and to let the herders
also change their "mode of management" from the
extensive management into the intensive. This will ultimately
achieve the transformation of animal husbandry into a type
of economy that is more quality- and benefit-based and eco-friendly,
rather than simply seeking the increase of quantity and damaging
According to officials from the Inner Mongolia Committee
of Development Plans, the Chinese government within this year
will authorize the initiation of the Inner Mongolian project
of shed-raising and prohibition of herding on the grasslands.
The central government has preliminarily decided to subsidy
100 Kg of grain and 50 yuan as the construction fee for every
hectare of grassland. The project will mainly be carried on
in the pastoral and "half-pastoral half-agricultural"
areas where the ecology has worsened. The Inner Mongolian
government is planning, by the year 2005, to increase the
size of no-herding and shift-herding areas to 50% of the size
of usable grasslands, and, through two million hectares of
grassland construction each year, to increase the production
of artificial forage grass to over 50% of the actual requirement.
During the past 20 years, Inner Mongolia has tried out this
method to change the "lifestyle" of herds. This
was deeply welcomed by herders and farmers. Guo Ba, a farmer
from Yangpo Village in Machanghao Township, Dalad Banner,
Inner Mongolia, said, "since practicing the shed-raising
and prohibition of herding, not only grasslands are more green
than before, but also because the government supported the
plantation of artificial grass and the improvement of livestock
breeds, herds became stronger and sold for more money."
"To develop ecological animal husbandry is not favoring
ecology over animal husbandry. The relationship between a
quality- and benefit-based modern animal husbandry, and to
protect the ecological environment of grasslands, always resembles
the relationship between lips and teeth," says Xu Zhu,
director of Grassland Research
Institute at the Chinese Academy of Agriculture. "The
ultimate goal of developing ecological animal husbandry is
to achieve the double victory for both ecology and animal
He thinks that the animal husbandry industry that exists
in Inner Mongolia has already laid a foundation for the reform.
At present, Inner Mongolia's milk and cashmere products hold
shares of 9% and 29% respectively in domestic markets.
Chairman of IMAR Oyunchimig reveals that henceforth the government
will put forceful effort to develop and support ecological
animal husbandry. A 200-million-yuan loan has already been
implemented this year to support over 50 major farming and
animal husbandry enterprises. By the year 2005, Inner Mongolian
milk production is expected to achieve a sale of 15 billion
yuan and to lead in the domestic milk production markets.
The cashmere production will strive to achieve an eight-billion-yuan
sale, and to hold 70% of domestic market share.
"Inner Mongolia's reforms for ecological animal husbandry
has not only carried on the strong points and abandoned the
weakness of traditional animal husbandry, but it also has
opened up a new train of thought to develop modern animal
husbandry. Therefore it would hopefully once again become
the testing ground for China's grassland animal husbandry
reforms," says Xu Zhu.