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China earmarks 500m yuan for black earth protection

Updated: Jun 24,2015 4:55 PM     Xinhua

HARBIN — China will spend 500 million yuan ($80 million) on black earth protection in northeastern provinces.

The funds will support pilot projects in 17 major grain-producing counties, said Zeng Yande, head of crop production management at the Ministry of Agriculture, during a meeting on soil protection along the black earth belt held in Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang province, on June 24.

Each county has been given 30 million yuan to protect and improve the quality of farmland, Zeng said.

By 2020, the pilot counties should increase the thickness of black earth topsoil by more than 10 cm, improve their land capacity and increase organic matter content of the soil, he said.

The black earth region of northeast China is one of the world’s three largest fertile areas and produces about a quarter of China’s grain.

Protection of black earth is vital to food security and sustainable use of farmland and agricultural resources. Excessive reclamation over the years has significantly reduced the fertility of the black earth belt and brought other problems such as salinization, acidification and pollution.