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China investing 600 bln in farmland improvement

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BEIJING, April 24 (Xinhua) -- China's government will invest around 600 billion yuan (95 billion U.S. dollars) between 2011 and 2015 in turning the nation's scattered and dilapidated rural lands into efficient farming areas, under Ministry of Land and Resources plans unveiled on Tuesday.

Dong Zuoji, director of the ministry's planning department, said at a press conference that the fund will help establish 400 million mu (around 26.7 million hectares) of efficient farmland across the country by 2015.

The investment will also help newly create 24 million mu of agricultural land in the period, Dong said.

The official estimated the campaign will boost the nation's grain output by 25 million tonnes.

The government will optimize the layout of construction land in rural areas and urge local regions to use land more frugally, according to the plans.

Meanwhile, farmland damaged by construction will be reclaimed, Dong said.

To ensure grain security, China strives to keep at least 1.8 billion mu of farmland for grain production. However, the nation faces increasing challenges to maintain the quota as official data has showed the country's total acreage of farmland stood at 1.826 billion mu in 2010, down from 1.945 billion mu in 1998.

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