Main content area

Agricultural water policy reforms in China: a representative look at Zhangye City, Gansu Province, China

Akiyama, Tomohiro, Kharrazi, Ali, Li, Jia, Avtar, Ram
Environmental monitoring and assessment 2018 v.190 no.1 pp. 9
agricultural development, agricultural land, agricultural products, farmers, groundwater extraction, international trade, irrigation water, land cover, land restoration, land use, local government, stakeholders, surveys, water conservation, water policy, water shortages, China
Water resources are essential for agricultural production in the grain-producing region of China, and water shortage could significantly affect the production and international trade of agricultural products. China is placing effort in new policies to effectively respond to changes in water resources due to changes in land use/land cover as well as climatic variations. This research investigates the changes in land, water, and the awareness of farmer vis-à-vis the implementation of water-saving policies in Zhangye City, an experimental site for pilot programs of water resources management in China. This research indicates that the water saved through water-saving programs and changes in cropping structure (2.2 × 10⁸ m³ a⁻¹) is perhaps lower than the newly increased water withdrawal through corporate-led land reclamation (3.7 × 10⁸ m³ a⁻¹). Most critically, the groundwater withdrawal has increased. In addition, our survey suggests that local government is facing a dilemma of water conservation and agricultural development. Therefore, the enforcement of the ban on farmland reclamation and irrigation water quotas in our study area is revealed to be relatively loose. In this vein, the engagement of local stakeholders in water governance is essential for the future sustainable management of water resources.