While China suffers from a severe drought1, an article published by Courrier International2 condemns the reckless irrigation policies that have been implemented throughout the country. The report indicates that, during many years, irrigation canals and water reservoirs have been diverted to large industrial complexes and urban centers. This situation is all the more critical in times of drought, when it becomes impossible to concurrently meet the needs of manufacturing, city dwellers and farmers, as explains Ma Gaoziang, a senior drought relief official for a city in the Guangdong plain.
Consequently, while the Guangdong plain was traditionally referred to as China’s breadbasket, the soil has now turned to dust and wheat sprouts are withering. According to the Courrier International figures, crops covering 626,000 acres of the area would be affected, with 49,450 of them reaching a critical stage.
Far from being an isolated case, the Guangdong plain is emblematic of the damages generated by the “industrial dream”. For the past twenty years and following up on the 19th century industrial revolution that spawned the expansion of western nations, the conventional wisdom dictates that national economic development is brought about by industrialization and urbanization, to the detriment of agriculture… and thus food security.
1 Please see momagri article of February 9, 2009, “China Becomes Latest Country Affected by Unprecedented Drought”, http://www.momagri.org/UK/A-look-at-the-news/China-becomes-latest-country-affected-by-unprecedented-drought_433.html
2 April 16, 2009 issue of Courrier International, “La mort annoncée d’un grenier à blé”