The Transformation of Agricultural Development towards a Sustainable Future from an Evolutionary View on the Chinese Loess Plateau: A Case Study of Fuxian County
The Loess Plateau in China receives lots of attention from around the world. The expansion of bad agricultural practices for hundreds of years aggravated the soil erosion on the Loess Plateau, however, and a lot of efforts were and are being made to reduce the serious soil erosion as well as regional poverty. Agricultural development of the Loess Plateau is still confronted with intricate challenges such as food concerns, environment concerns, and regional poverty. The strategy of development towards sustainability offers a possible and important way to face the challenges. This study tried to develop a holistic “variation-selection-replication-retention” model to analyze the transformation of agricultural development from an evolutionary view which is generally integrative. It is indicated that policies should be lively and vibrant organisms full of innovations owning to ever-changing environment in the evolutionary view. Under this analytical framework, one possible path from serious soil erosion region to region with sustainable agriculture could be recognized in the case study of Fuxian County: serious soil erosion regions → regions with poor production conditions → production-optimized regions → regions with developed agriculture → regions with sustainable agriculture. Diversified integrative development is suggested due to regional differences and the possible developing order in Fuxian County. State-subsidized “Grain for Green” policy and diversified land use are necessary for the transformation of serious soil erosion regions which are usually trapped in regional poverty. To the transformation of regions with poor production conditions, a state-subsidized “production optimization” policy and diversified land use deserve to be considered, due to regional poverty in regions with poor production conditions. Agricultural scale operation is priority for the transformation of production-optimized regions towards agricultural modernization. Ecological thinking is very helpful for the transformation of regions with developed agriculture. The area of serious soil erosion regions in Fuxian County has dropped down from 1760 km 2 in 1949 to 360.6 km 2 in 2010. The diversified integrative routine tends to be one possible way to realize the development towards sustainability.
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