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Arable land requirements based on food consumption patterns: Case study in rural Guyuan District, Western China


  • Zhen, Lin
  • Cao, Shuyan
  • Cheng, Shengkui
  • Xie, Gaodi
  • Wei, Yunjie
  • Liu, Xuelin
  • Li, Fen


In comparison with all data for rural China, deficiencies of animal protein and fat intake were identified using the method of Gerbens-Leenes et al. ([Gerbens-Leenes, P.W., Nonhebel, S., Iven, W.P.M.F., 2002. A method to determine land requirements relating to food consumption patterns. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 90: 47-45]) in examining food consumption patterns and arable land requirements of Guyuan District, a remote rural area of western China. Population growth and rapid economic development have increasingly been reducing the land available for primary production, creating potentially serious risks for China's food security. Land required to produce food is determined by population size, consumption patterns, land resource endowment - or "agro-ecological" conditions and the level of farm intensification. Per capita land requirements in Guyuan District were identified to meet basic consumption needs, and to evaluate nutritional conditions related to current consumption patterns. Data used for this analysis were obtained from surveys of household food consumption. Food consumption involved only meeting basic requirements for sustenance, with grains, potatoes, vegetables, fruits, and plant oils being the most commonly consumed foods. Per capita intake of calories totaled 11.1 MJ·day- 1, matching the recommended level for China to meet basic health requirements. Daily protein intake was 66.8 g·person- 1·day- 1, being below the recommended standard of 77 g·person- 1·day- 1. Of this total, protein from animal meat accounted for only 7.5% of total protein. Fat intake totaled only 47.4 g·person- 1·day- 1, being far below the standard of 70 g·person- 1·day- 1. Yet, farmers must sell their limited livestock to earn enough income to meet their daily consumption needs. This expenditure accounted for nearly 33% of mean annual household income, so only 28% of domestic animal products were consumed locally. Benchmark data is provided to assist with improving living standards of rural people.

Suggested Citation

  • Zhen, Lin & Cao, Shuyan & Cheng, Shengkui & Xie, Gaodi & Wei, Yunjie & Liu, Xuelin & Li, Fen, 2010. "Arable land requirements based on food consumption patterns: Case study in rural Guyuan District, Western China," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(7), pages 1443-1453, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:69:y:2010:i:7:p:1443-1453

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Fan, Shenggan & Pardey, Philip G., 1997. "Research, productivity, and output growth in Chinese agriculture," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 115-137, June.
    2. Xu, Zhigang & Xu, Jintao & Deng, Xiangzheng & Huang, Jikun & Uchida, Emi & Rozelle, Scott, 2006. "Grain for Green versus Grain: Conflict between Food Security and Conservation Set-Aside in China," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 130-148, January.
    3. Fan, Shenggen, 1997. "How fast have China's agricultural production and productivity really been growing?: new measurement and evidence," EPTD discussion papers 30, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    4. Wen, Guanzhong James, 1993. "Total Factor Productivity Change in China's Farming Sector: 1952-1989," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 42(1), pages 1-41, October.
    5. Gerbens-Leenes, P. W. & Nonhebel, S., 2002. "Consumption patterns and their effects on land required for food," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1-2), pages 185-199, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Emiko Fukase & Will Martin, 2016. "Who Will Feed China in the 21st Century? Income Growth and Food Demand and Supply in China," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(1), pages 3-23, February.
    2. repec:gam:jsusta:v:10:y:2018:i:5:p:1376-:d:143742 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:8:p:1323-:d:109299 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Reshmita Nath & Yibo Luan & Wangming Yang & Chen Yang & Wen Chen & Qian Li & Xuefeng Cui, 2015. "Changes in Arable Land Demand for Food in India and China: A Potential Threat to Food Security," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(5), pages 1-27, April.
    5. Sali, Guido & Corsi, Stefano & Monaco, Federica & Mazzochi, Chiara, 2014. "The role of different typologies of urban agriculture for the nourishment of the metropolis. The case study of Milan," 2014 International Congress, August 26-29, 2014, Ljubljana, Slovenia 186373, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    6. Jing You, 2014. "Dietary change, nutrient transition and food security in fast-growing China," Chapters,in: Handbook on Food, chapter 9, pages 204-245 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    7. Martin, William J. & Fukase, Emiko, 2014. "Who Will Feed China in the 21st Century? Income," 2014: Food, Resources and Conflict, December 7-9, 2014. San Diego, California 197164, International Agricultural Trade Research Consortium.


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