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The World Bank’s board of executive directors has recently approved a US$320mn loan to promote green agriculture and rural development in China’s Southwest region

Worldbank chinaThe first phase of the current plan focuses on aspects such as green agricultural development, modernisation and rural infrastructure development among others. (Image source: Adobe Stock)

The funding will contribute to global public goods, including reducing agricultural plastics pollution and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from farming, and improving biodiversity protection and restoration, while strengthening the institutional capacity of local governments to integrate environmental objectives in government rural revitalisation plans and investments. The World Bank financing will complement over US$4.69bn of China’s own resources.

According to the World Bank, the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and the Guizhou province are among the bottom four poorest areas of mainland China's 31 administrative regions. Agriculture continues to represent a sizable part of their economies, with larger than national average rural populations in both provinces. 

The data further claims that despite rapid gains in poverty reduction in recent years, two-thirds of the rural population have incomes below US$5.50 per day, the poverty line for upper-middle-income countries. Increasing unsustainable agricultural practices, natural resource degradation and GHG emissions are undermining sustained agriculture and rural growth in these areas.

The programme supports the Chinese government's ambitious national ‘Rural Revitalisation Programme’ (2018-2035), which is implemented through five-year ‘Rural Revitalisation Strategic’ plans (RRS). 

The first phase of the current plan focuses on consolidating and sustaining recent gains in the eradication of absolute poverty through green agricultural development and modernisation, rural infrastructure and public services delivery, and rural governance improvement. 

“China’s remarkable achievements in rural poverty reduction are at risk unless agricultural practices become more environmentally sustainable,” said Martin Raiser, World Bank country director for China, Mongolia and Korea.

“This programme will introduce targets for greening agriculture and at the same time help enhance the effectiveness and impact of the government’s rural revitalisation program in Guangxi and Guizhou, generating lessons that can be applied nationally,” he added.

The programme is expected to be 94% funded by the government, mostly at the provincial level, to support the achievement of the targeted results. Programme activities will comprise institutional capacity building at the village and county levels, training and agricultural extension services for farms and cooperatives, financial incentives to farmers and food processing companies to promote climate-smart and greener agriculture technologies and practices, and investments in rural wastewater and solid waste management services. 

The programme also includes investments in monitoring, evaluation and verification of environmental outcomes and supports the development of programme-based budgets to better link resource use with outcomes at the local government level.