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Agricultural News

OSU Economist Derrell Peel Reflects on Recent Visit to China to Learn About It's Agriculture Industry

Mon, 09 Jul 2018 10:51:18 CDT

OSU Economist Derrell Peel Reflects on Recent Visit to China to Learn About It's Agriculture Industry Mondays, Dr. Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist, offers his economic analysis of the beef cattle industry. This analysis is a part of the weekly series known as the "Cow Calf Corner" published electronically by Dr. Peel and Dr. Glenn Selk. Today, Dr. Peel shares some of his first impressions of China's agriculture industry which he had the chance to observe during a recent trip to the Asian continent.

"I recently had an opportunity to spend several weeks in China for the first time. My trip had several objectives including teaching an agribusiness course at China Agricultural University in Beijing for about two weeks. In addition, I was able to travel for another two weeks and experience the terrain, climate, culture and agriculture in several locations across central China.

"While pollution was obvious in the brown air as we descended into Beijing by airplane, I did not notice significant air quality problems after the first day. Beijing is a very clean, modern city; in fact, China is full of clean, modern cities. At least 100 cities in China have a population of over one million with the top fifteen cities home to 260 million people. Cities are busy with lots of traffic driving mostly new cars and trucks on an impressive highway system. In the city one finds an array of vehicles including some older trucks; small utility vehicles and three-wheeled cycles; motorcycles; scooters; and bicycles on crowded streets. The continually expanding Beijing subway system provided the easiest and cheapest way to get around the city. Beijing sits on the northern end of the vast North China Plain, agricultural heartland of the country. An hour’s drive north of Beijing puts one in the mountains with magnificent views of a portion of the Great Wall.

"I traveled roughly 3500 miles in a loop around central China on the incredible high-speed train system. Leaving Beijing, I first traveled south and west to spend several days in Xian, in Shaanxi province, home of the famous terracotta warriors found in the tomb complex of the Emperor Qin. Xian was historically the eastern end of the Silk Road and borders the drier northwestern regions of China, which are less developed and include grasslands and deserts farther west. I continued southwest to Chengdu, in Sichuan province, home to much agricultural production and manufacturing but most famous as the home to the bulk of the remaining natural bamboo habitat for the Giant Panda. To the west of Chengdu is the high, frozen Tibet Plateau.

"Leaving Chengdu, I traveled some 1200 miles east to Shanghai. The trip from Chengdu to Shanghai passed through rural areas and pockets of agricultural production while crossing expansive mountainous regions and following the Yangtze River to the coast. Shanghai is an international business center and the largest city in China. The final leg of the trip was another bullet train ride from Shanghai back to Beijing, skirting the coast northward across the North China Plain.

"The biggest impression I have of China is dynamic growth and the rapid pace of development. While economic growth has slowed somewhat from recent years, the Chinese economy is projected to grow about 6.6 percent in 2018. What you see everywhere as a result of that is construction…new roads, railroads, and hundreds of new high-rise apartment buildings. It is very common to see 10-20 construction cranes at work simultaneously as housing developments were doubling or tripling in size. In some cases older structures are being replaced with new construction while in other cases sprawling new developments are pushing urban boundaries into previously undeveloped areas. With an urbanization rate of one to two percent per year, the 1.4 billion Chinese population means that new housing and jobs must be forthcoming for 15-25 million each year as people relocate from rural to urban locations.

"China is about the same size as the U.S., roughly the same distance east to west but covering a wider range of latitude north to south. Every climate and terrain imaginable is found in China leading to a vast and diverse agricultural system. Through my travels, visits and meetings, I saw and learned much about Chinese agriculture, food production and the challenges and opportunities ahead. I’ll share more about that in future articles."



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