With abundant sunshine and rainfall, four distinct seasons and advanced agricultural technologies and systems, Hunan is blessed with favourable climate and conditions for agricultural production, making it an important food production base in Mainland China
Hunan Province is one of the major agricultural provinces and an important agricultural product supply centre in Mainland China. The province covers 212,000 square kilometres, among which 51.2 per cent are mountains, 29.3 per cent are hills and 13.1 per cent are flatlands. There are 14 prefectures and prefecture-level cities, 122 counties, cities and districts, 1,925 towns and 24,099 administrative villages. At the end of 2019, the province’s permanent population was 69.18 million, with urban population reaching 39.59 million and the urbanisation rate at 57.2 per cent.

Hunan has 62.33 million mu of arable lands, 49.5 million mu of which are permanent farmlands and 38.5 million mu are used for food production. The province’s annual food production is stable at around 60 billion catties and its rice output ranks first in the country. Since the founding of Mainland China, Hunan is one of two provinces that has never stopped producing commodity food items to the country.

Hunan’s live pig export ranks first in the country, and the number of pigs slaughtered and stocked ranks among the top three. The planting areas and yields of rape plants are the largest and second-largest in the country, respectively, whereas both the planting areas and yields of Camellia oleifera rank first. The production of a variety of other agricultural products, including vegetables, tea, fruits, freshwater products, Chinese medicine and moso bamboo, also ranks among the top in Mainland China. The output value of the agro-processing industry in Hunan reached RMB1.8trn in 2019, which was among the top seven in the country.

Sustained growth
In 2020, the value added of agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry and fisheries in Hunan recorded a steady year-on-year increase of 3.9 per cent, which is 0.4 percentage points higher than the previous year. There are growths in both grain production and sown area. Specifically, the total grain output of Hunan was 30.15 million tonnes (60.3 billion catties), an increase of 400,000 tonnes (800 million catties) or 1.4 per cent from the previous year; vegetable and edible fungus at 41.1 million tonnes, an increase of 3.5 per cent; rape plants at 2.29 million tonnes, an increase of 10 per cent; fruit at 11.65 million tonnes, an increase of 9.7 per cent. The province ranked first in the six central provinces in terms of pig slaughtered and second in pig stock.
Accelerated transformation
To ensure national food safety and sufficient supply of staple agricultural products, Hunan has been promoting the transformation and upgrading of the agricultural industry and the strategic adjustment of the industry’s structure. According to the different economic development stages and changes in productivity levels, the structure of the province’s agricultural industry is being continuously adjusted and optimised for the market, resulting in a comprehensive and balanced development of agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry, fishery and other auxiliary industries.

The top 10 agricultural industries in the province, namely food and grains, livestock and poultry, vegetables, fruits, tea, Camellia oleifera, aquatic commodities, rape plants, moso bamboo and Chinese medicine, have grown rapidly and the modern agricultural industry system has begun to take shape. The total output of rice sowing areas consistently ranks first in the country and the supply of “Vegetable Basket” is sufficient with an increase in the production of crops such as vegetables, fruits and tea. The production of cattle, sheep, poultry and aquatic commodities accelerated significantly and the output of staple agricultural products such as food and grains, vegetables, livestock and poultry remained at the forefront in Mainland China.

Steady developments
The province is nurturing leading enterprises, professional farmer co-operatives, family farms, large professional households and new types of professional farmers, as well as promoting the independent development of farmers and the transformation of agricultural production and operating methods through the implementation of the “Hundred Enterprises, Thousand Societies and Ten Thousand Households” modern agricultural development project and the “Hundred Lands, Thousand Gardens and Ten Thousand Talents” science and technology agricultural project.

Hunan enhanced its agricultural development and promoted the establishment of modern agricultural industrial parks under the “One County, One Feature” plan on distinct industries. The province emphasises on the high-quality development of new agricultural business entities, such as farmer co-operatives.

Significant achievements
Hunan agricultural scientists have been focusing on agricultural science and technology innovations such as hybrid rice, rape plants breeding and cultivation and pig breeding, and have achieved significant achievements. Five provincial-level innovation teams on developing modern agricultural technology have been established to work on rice, live pigs, cotton, vegetables and citrus crops. The coverage rate of quality crops in the province has reached 96 per cent, and the contribution rate of the advancement of agricultural technology to modern agricultural development has reached 60 per cent.

Significant support for a number of modern agricultural machinery co-operatives in the province has improved the implementation of agricultural mechanisation. The reform and creation of the rural agricultural technology promotion system was completed, while the pilot agricultural socialisation services are enhanced. The seed and seedling system, the animal and plant disease prevention and control system, the agricultural product quality and safety regulatory system, the agricultural information system and the agricultural law enforcement system have been further improved.

In addition, the “Internet+” modern agriculture and modern rural “+Internet” initiatives have been implemented to promote online agriculture and rural informatisation and to bring villages, farmers and the world closer together.

Raising standards
Hunan has been focusing on building ecological agriculture and promoting a series of ecologically safe production technologies, including simplified cultivation, ecological planting, harmless breeding, formula fertilisation by soil testing, fruit bagging and bioengineering.

The province has also been raising the level of agricultural standardisation. Currently, there are 2.8 million hectares of standardised production areas and major sectors including rice, vegetables, citrus crops and tea have reached a 50-per-cent rate of standardisation of production. A number of national standardised vegetable farms, tea plantations and orchards have been built, while a batch of national livestock and poultry standardised demonstration farms, provincial standardised demonstration farms and ministerial-level healthful aquaculture demonstration sites have also been established. Forty per cent of Hunan’s pig farms with an annual production of over 500 live pigs are practising standardised breeding.

Hunan is actively promoting the campaign for “Three Certificates and One Indication” (certificates for pollution-free agricultural products, green food and organic agricultural products and geographical indications of agricultural products). At present, the amount of certified green food produced by Hunan ranks fourth in the country and the number of certificates organic agricultural products received ranks third nationally. Together with a growing yield of pollution-free agricultural products and an increasing number of products awarded the Agro-product Geographical Indication issued by the Ministry of Agriculture, Hunan has a total of 4,160 certificates and indications, putting it at the forefront of the country. Anhua County’s dark tea, Langshan Town’s navel orange, Yuanjiang City’s asparagus and Ningxiang County’s pigs have been selected as Hunan’s top 10 agricultural brands. Thanks to the continuous implementation of ecological agriculture and building of green agricultural brands, the market competitiveness and development of Hunan’s agricultural products have been enhanced and expanded.

Thriving exports
Hunan has actively participated in and organised a variety of trade fairs, agricultural expos and festivals, including the China–Africa Economic and Trade Expo, Central China (Hunan) Agricultural Expo, Rice Expo, Hunan–Guangdong Economic and Trade Fair, Hunan Trade Fair, Citrus Festival, Bamboo Cultural Festival and Flower Festival. In addition, Hunan has achieved fruitful results through a range of bilateral co-operation projects.

In recent years, the province’s foreign trade of agricultural products has grown by leaps and bounds. Hunan’s major agricultural product exports include vegetables, livestock, beverages, Chinese medicine, plant products and tobacco products, which are exported to countries and regions including Hong Kong, ASEAN, the US and the EU. Hunan also imports various agricultural products including livestock, soybean, oilseeds, aquatic commodities, food and grain products and fruits from places such as Brazil, Canada, the EU and New Zealand.

Hunan agricultural enterprises have invested in more than 30 countries and regions across five continents. Leading seed companies including Longping High-tech, Yuan’s Seed and Keeplong Seeds have established rice seed research and development centres overseas to promote the development of hybrid rice and have already made significant contribution to improving the food safety of their host countries and regions.

A bright future
During the 13th Five-year Plan period, the province executed a number of infrastructure projects regarding water and power supply, road transport and communications. With the completion of the construction project on improving the safety of drinking water in rural areas, 17.3 million people or 93 per cent of the rural population now have access to safe and sanitary water. Meanwhile, the adoption of biogas, solar energy and firewood- and coal-saving stoves has been widely encouraged.

In 2020, under the leadership of the Provincial Party Committee and the Provincial Government, as well as with the concerted effort of the agricultural industry and the people of Hunan, the province has overcome the adverse impact of the pandemic on agricultural production. The process of agricultural supply-side structural reforms continues to advance, three talent programmes and six major agricultural projects are undergoing in full force, and a large of number of billion-dollar enterprises with advantageous characteristics have reached a whole new level.

With confidence and determination, Hunan is marching towards prosperity under the 14th Five-year Plan.