||The project will help increase incomes and improve livelihood opportunities for farmers in the central Ningxia, and increase agricultural productivity through adoption of water conservation and sustainable farming practices in the project area. The project will support (i) agricultural productivity improvement, and (ii) capacity development and project management. The agricultural productivity improvement component will include (i) water conservation infrastructure and technology, such as drip irrigation; (ii) water-harvesting structures and better water regulation; (iii) climate change adaptation measures, such as conservation tillage, introduction of supplemental irrigation and drought resilient crops, return of crop residue to farmlands, and balanced fertilizer application; (iv) farm access roads and low-voltage power transmission lines; and (v) wind-break forest belts around farmlands. The project is expected to develop about 12,000 ha of perennial crops, such as grapes, wolfberry, and Chinese dates, by rehabilitating existing land, converting staple crops to perennial crops, and developing barren land into farmland. These crops are proven to be suitable for the dryland areas in Ningxia. Moreover, Ningxia is considered to have competitive advantage in developing these crops. The capacity development and project management component will support (i) development and strengthening of farmers' associations, including water user associations; (ii) pilot monitoring of water uses by water user associations; (iii) tailored training, workshops, and study tours for farmers and project staff; and training of lead farmers; and (iv) project management and results-based monitoring and evaluation.
|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy
During the Country Programming Mission held in Manila in December 2009, the government of the People's Republic of China (PRC) requested the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to assist the Ningxia Hui autonomous region government (NHARG) to prepare the Ningxia Dryland Farming and Water Conservation Demonstration Project which is included in ADB's lending program for 2012.
Ningxia, located in the northwest region of the PRC, is one of the smallest of the PRC's provinces, with a total area of 66,400 square kilometers and a population of about 6.2 million, 36% urban and 64% rural residents. It is one of the country's ethnic minority regions, with about 2.2 million or 36% Hui minority. Ningxia is largely arid and semiarid. The climate is dry and highly seasonal, with dry and harsh winters and hot summers. Constraints such as low farm productivity, poor rural infrastructure, lack of access to rural finance, and poor education and skills limit economic opportunities for the rural poor who are vulnerable to economic and social risks.
The central arid and semiarid area, where the project is located, covers about 45% of Ningxia's area. Most of the land in the area is relatively flat and close to the Yellow River. Extensive land reclamation and irrigation infrastructures have been built in the area since the 1960s partly due to population growth. Particularly in the 1980s, several large lift irrigation schemes were built to divert water from the Yellow River transforming central Ningxia's dryland farming into an irrigated agriculture area. The farming systems in these dry areas depend on adequate water availability. The project area is characterized by low precipitation that occurs in erratic patterns, mostly late in the cropping season. Irrigation is essential in the early crop-growing stages. In the project area, flood irrigation or furrow irrigation are still practiced widely even though water resources are very limited. Currently, Ningxia is allocated about 4.0 billion cubic meters of water annually from the Yellow River, the major water source accessible to the region. Agricultural water use accounts for more than 90% of the total water use in Ningxia compared to about 64% nationally. Improvement in water use efficiency in the agriculture sector is paramount to increase water and agricultural productivity in Ningxia.
Over the years, poor farming practices have accelerated land and water resources degradation. Ningxia is one of the provinces that suffer serious environmental degradation in the PRC. Land desertification is becoming a serious concern, accounting for about 24% of the total area of the region. Low water use efficiency and flood irrigation have resulted in severe salinization in the area. The water loss and soil erosion area accounts for about 34% of the region. The degradation has caused declining soil fertility and productivity, increasing farm input costs, and decreasing farm incomes. Poor management of fertilizer and chemicals has also resulted in significant nonpoint source contaminations. Implementation of water and land conservation practices and integrated pest management can improve fertility and reduce land degradation. Support is needed for undertaking higher value on-farm and off-farm activities, and increasing agricultural productivity and farm incomes.