China Says Arable Land Size of Belgium Too Polluted for Farming

China Says Arable Land Size of Belgium Too Polluted for Farming

More than 2 percent of China’s arable land, or an area the size of Belgium, is too polluted to grow crops, the government said, offering new evidence of the environmental cost associated with 30 years of breakneck growth.About 50 million mu (3.3 million hectares) of farmland is too spoiled for planting, Vice Minister of Land and Resources Wang Shiyuan said at a press conference in Beijing yesterday, according to a transcript on the government’s website. The country has 135 million hectares of arable land, he said, citing a nationwide survey.

Concerns that toxic soil is spoiling crops and making people sick join those about China’s polluted skies and water as issues that have highlighted the cost of economic expansion, which has averaged about 10 percent annually over three decades. Leaders including Xi Shaoshi, head of the country’s top economic planning agency, have said environmental degradation is challenging China’s traditional growth pattern.

Wang’s comments were made at a briefing on the results of China’s latest land survey. In February, Wang’s ministry said a five-year, $1 billion soil pollution survey started in 2006 would not be released because it was considered a “state secret,” signaling concerns that negative information from the study could cause social instability.

In May, Guangdong province, the nation’s most-populous region, said it found excessive levels of toxic cadmium in more than 40 percent of rice sold in capital city Guangzhou.

Metal Contamination

The government will spend “tens of billions of yuan” each year to repair land with heavy metal contamination and to restore over-exploited ground aquifers, Wang said at yesterday’s briefing. About 28,000 rivers have vanished since 1990, according to the Ministry of Water Resources and National Bureau of Statistics.

Farming on the land with medium-to-heavy pollution should be discontinued, Wang said. The main areas with farmland pollution are the Yangtze River Delta, Pearl River Delta, northeast China and Hunan province, he said.

China conducted its first-ever land survey in the 10 years that ended 1996, Wang said. The second began in July 2007 and took three years to complete, Wang said at the briefing yesterday, at which he discussed the newly released results of that survey.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: William Bi in Beijing at

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Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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