The project will improve the value of horticultural outputs by adopting high-value and high-quality varieties, water conservation infrastructures, sustainable farming practices, and institutional capacity development. The project will encompass the Hongsipu District, the Tongxin and Yanchi counties, and six subfarm sites under the Ningxia Agriculture Reclamation Corporation (State Farm Group) in the central Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region (Ningxia).
The impact of the project will be improved sustainability of irrigated agricultural production in Ningxia. The outcome of the project will be increased quality and value of horticulture crops (grapes and Chinese dates). The project will have four outputs and/or components: (i) established vineyards and Chinese date orchards, (ii) increased grape processing capacity, (iii) improved irrigation system, and (iv) strengthened institutional and capacity development.
|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 Irrigated Agriculture and Water Conservation Demonstration Project (formerly 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, is one of the PRC's ethnic minority regions, with a total area of 66,400 square kilometers and a population of about 6.2 million, of which about 2.2 million or 36% are Hui minority. Ningxia is largely arid and semiarid, with dry and harsh winters and hot summers. Ningxia and its people lag behind the rest of the PRC in terms of income and well-being. Ningxia's per capita gross domestic product was CNY26,860 in 2010, below the national average gross domestic product of CNY29,762. A large income disparity exists between urban and rural residents, with the average urban income (CNY15,334) more than 3 times that of rural income (CNY4,675) in 2010. In Ningxia, over 1 million people or 25.6% of the total rural population are living below the national poverty line. One key to reducing poverty and the gap between rural and urban income is to provide increased income to crop growers and households in the agriculture sector. The project includes design elements which improve the employment situation and increase the incomes of women as well as empower them to participate in decision making.
Agriculture remains an important sector in Ningxia. Ningxia's agriculture has a long history. The vast plain of the Yellow River in the north has been irrigated for centuries; and over the years, an extensive system of canals has been built to pump water from the Yellow River. The total agricultural land in Ningxia is about 4.1 million hectares (ha). Ningxia has three traditional agricultural areas: (i) northern plains, with primarily irrigated agriculture; (ii) central arid and semiarid area, with a mix of irrigated and rainfed agriculture; and (iii) southern hilly and mountainous area, with rainfed agriculture. The central arid and semiarid area covers about 45% of Ningxia. Most of the land in the area is relatively flat and close to the Yellow River. Extensive irrigation infrastructures have been built in the area since the 1960s. 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 rationale for the project arises from the identification of two key opportunities: increasing the production of high-quality and high-value crops, and improving agricultural productivity by particularly improving water productivity. There is a clear economic driver for pursuing these opportunities increased competitiveness of farm households and wine enterprises, thus improving the financial and economic viability of these entities. The project will demonstrate water conservation measures that are (i) useful in central Ningxia and elsewhere in irrigated dryland areas, and (ii) resilient to climate change. The project will also help farmers to use more sustainable farm practices.
The project is consistent with the government's 12th Five-Year Plan (2011 2015), which aims to promote equitable and balanced regional growth, sustainable natural resources management, and conservation agriculture and crop diversification. The project particularly follows the State Council's decree on further promoting economic and social development of Ningxia (issued in 2008). The project supports the 12th Five-Year Plan of the Ningxia government's goal to accelerate agricultural development by increasing agricultural production capacity, reducing risk, and improving market competitiveness. The plan specifically targets improving the production capacity of low-yielding agricultural land. Both grapes and Chinese dates are mentioned as crops that can be transformed into high-value crops along with further development of competitive processing. For grapes, the 10-year development plan for Ningxia viticulture sector proposes an expansion with one million mu (650,000 ha). The plan also promotes innovation in irrigation technology and advocates increasing the use of water-saving irrigation technologies such as drip and sprinkler irrigation systems. The State Farm Group will be the key player in achieving this target. The project is in line with the Asian Development Bank's (ADB) country partnership strategy, 2011 2015 for the PRC which supports the government's goal of building a harmonious society by (i) addressing the rising income inequality and widening regional disparities, and (ii) promoting environmentally sustainable development. It also supports ADB's Water Operational Plan, 2011 2020 for promoting integrated water resources management and irrigation efficiency.