Resource Management and its
Scaling Up in Guizhou, China
Guizhou, located in the southwest, is one of the poorest provinces in China and about half its population belongs to ethnic minority groups. These groups mainly inhabit the mountainous rural areas where they manage complex production systems consisting of irrigated and rainfed rice fields, less productive uplands and grasslands, forested areas and so-called “wastelands.” Problems that people face include low yields, little crop diversification, forests that in general are not in good health, and overgrazed common grasslands.
Guizhou is a typical mountainous area with 90% of
its total land being mountains and hills. Its 34 million
people are supported by a small, fragile
agricultural land base, and deforestation and soil
erosion are severe. Farming lands are scarce and
in poor condition. Rural people mainly rely on
limited natural resources for their subsistence.
Farmers are deficient in both cash and food. The
major socieconomic indicators such as per capita
income, grain production, area of arable land are
all among the lowest in China. Of the total
population in the province, 30% are living under
the poverty line accounting for over 10% of the
poor people in China. The income per capita is less
than 400 yuan (CNY) and the grain yield per
capita is only 200kg (Chen Deshou et al., 1997).
Since the early 1980s, China has undergone rapid economic transformation from a centrally planned-economy to a marketoriented economy. As a result of the economic reforms, the commune regime in rural China collapsed in 1980–1982. After the breakdown of the commune regime, farming lands, both paddy fields and upland fields, were contracted out to individual households. This was formalized through certificates.