China's Xinjiang increases agricultural acreage

Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region has seen the coverage of agricultural land significantly increase over the past decade to rank fifth among China's provincial-level regions.

Liu Xingguang, deputy director of Xinjiang's natural resources department, said at a press conference held by the regional government on Tuesday that the total cultivated land in Xinjiang reached 106 million mu (about 7 million hectares) by the end of 2019, up 28.7 million mu from 2009.

He said during the third national land survey carried out between 2017 and 2019, 106 counties in Xinjiang measured their arable land, of which irrigated land accounts for 96 percent of the total, and dry land and paddy fields take up 3.15 percent and 0.85 percent of the total, respectively.

Liu said despite the increase in acreage, the overall quality of cultivated land is not high. The regional government must "unswervingly adhere to the strictest cultivated land protection measures."

He said the arable land in Xinjiang is mainly used for growing grain and other agricultural products such as cotton, sugar and vegetables. The regional government will strictly control attempts to convert arable land for non-agricultural purposes.