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Addressing the dual challenges of food security and environmental sustainability during rural livelihood transitions in China

Qi, Xiaoxing, Dang, Heping
Land use policy 2018 v.77 pp. 199-208
Oryza sativa, agricultural land, crop production, decision making, double cropping, environmental quality, farms, food security, household surveys, households, issues and policy, land use, livelihood, rice, sustainable agriculture, watersheds, China
Ensuring national food security without decreasing environmental quality is essential for China’s agricultural sustainability. This paper proposes an analytical framework that integrates the influence of rural livelihood transitions and the constraint of local resource availability to explore possible approaches for addressing the dual challenges of food security and environmental sustainability. Using data from land-use images, farmland quality investigations, household surveys, and plot surveys, this framework is applied within a catchment in Taojiang County, which is a key commodity grain base location in China. The results indicate that the combined effects of local livelihood transitions, farmland allocation systems and the current subsidy policy resulted in a higher environmental cost per unit rice output. The results also suggest that the “one-size-fits-all” policy that favors large-scale double cropping rice is problematic. Local decision makers need to develop contextually sensitive policies that promote moderate-scale farm households and cropping patterns that are consistent with farmland grain-planting suitability.