Livestock husbandry booms in South China

by 5m Editor
12 January 2004, at 12:00am

YINCHUAN - As more farmers in south China switch from growing crops to raising livestock, the distribution of China's livestock husbandry is undergoing deep change.

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Traditionally, the north of China was the major pastoral area and the base for livestock husbandry while the south was mainly a crop growing area. But now the development of livestock husbandry is taking off infertile south China.

Farmers in the southern province of Hunan are witnessing both the prosperity of agriculture and livestock farming. Weng Xinfan, a farmer in Pingjiang County of Hunan Province, has raised cattle for 10 years.

"When I went to Henan Province to buy cattle 10 years ago, most farmers in our village are still making a living growing rice and raising pigs." Now with 45 cattle raised for meat, Weng gains an annual net income of over 30,000 yuan (3614.5 US dollars)

In Hunan Province, the profit for raising a cattle beast for meat is 500 yuan (60.24 US dollars), a dairy cow 3,000 yuan (361.45 US dollars) to 5,000 yuan (602.41 US dollars) and the profit for raising a sheep is 80 yuan (9.64 US dollars).

"This is much higher than the profit for growing rice," said Weng.

According to Zhang Guanghui, chief engineer of livestock husbandry and aquatic products bureau of Hunan Province, in the last 10 years, the annual output of beef and mutton in Hunan has increased from 29,000 tons to 197,000 tons.

Restricted by natural conditions a drought climate and short frost-free period, the average yield of forage in north China is only 1,000 to 6,000 kilograms per mu (one-fifteenth hectare), while in the South yields can reach 20 tons, over 10 times that in the north.

"There are millions of hectares of potential pasture resources in the south, all of which can be used for livestock husbandry," said Zhang.

The shortage of water in North China also hamper the development of livestock husbandry. In the past, herdsmen in the north lived a nomadic life to look for water and grass. Many local people had to drill wells for water.

"But in the south where water abounds, this problem does not exist at all," said Zhang.

"Moreover, the climate of the south is better for growing crops and livestock don't have to survive the cold northern winter."

"The south also boasts an enormous market and good investment conditions," Zhang added.

Despite producing more mutton than any other country, China had to import mutton and annual per-capita beef consumption is only five kilograms, while the prices of beef and mutton in Europe and the United States are five to 10 times that in China.

The great demand for meat both in China and overseas prompted local governments in south China to attach more importance to the development of the livestock husbandry.

Some local governments in Hunan Province have organized special teams to direct the development of herbivorous animals.

Source: Xinhua via Comtex - 12th January 2004

5m Editor