Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2002, Vol. 57 ›› Issue (2): 127-134.doi: 10.11821/xb200202001

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The Minimum Area Per Capita of Cultivated Land and Its Implication for the Optimization of Land Resource Allocation

CAI Yun-long, FU Ze-qiang, DAI Er-fu   

  1. Department of Urban and Environmental Sciences & The Center for Land Study, Peking University;Laboratory for Earth Surface Processes, The Ministry of Education, Beijing 100871, China
  • Received:2001-11-29 Revised:2002-01-07 Online:2002-03-25 Published:2010-09-06
  • Supported by:

    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No. 40171004


Cultivated land, different from other resources, is fundamental to the sustainable development of Chinese agriculture, society and economy. Market mechanism inevitably drives cultivated land into industrial and urban uses. Rapid industrialization and urbanization lead the scarce cultivated land resources to more crises. So market is a failure to allocate this kind of resource which can be regarded as common property in a certain sense. Government intervention is necessary for optimization allocation of cultivated land. Current policy of macro-administration for cultivated land conservation is oriented to total quantitative control. Every province is demanded that the total number of cultivated land remains not decreased. This policy is difficult for practicing because it does not consider various situations in different regions. For example, in eastern provinces where rapid industrialization and urbanization is proceeding and reserved arable land is scarce, the total number of cultivated land will inevitably decrease unless at the cost of lowering the economic growth. Therefore, it is necessary to innovate the policy of cultivated land resources conservation and utilization. The authors put forward the concept of minimum area per capita of cultivated land (MAPCCL) as a new insight into the optimization of land resource allocation for policy making. MAPCCL can be defined as the minimum number of cultivated land that can meet the needs of food consumption under certain food self-sufficient rate and land productivity. PICL provides a threshold of cultivated land conservation. If K<1, some cultivated land may be conversed into urban and industrial uses and planting structure may be adjusted for more cash crops. If K>1, cultivated land should not be conversed into other uses or land quality and productivity should be enhanced by means of increasing input and technological innovation.

Key words: cultivated land, minimum area per capita, pressure index, threshold of conservation, China