August 22, 2017, Washington D.C. – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved a $100 million loan today to demonstrate a risk-based integrated approach to managing heavy metal pollution in agricultural land in China’s Hunan Province in support of the government’s efforts to ensure food safety and security for the population.
Over the past decades, China has successfully fed its population of 1.3 billion people with less than seven percent of the world’s arable land. However, China also faces agricultural land pollution by heavy metals such as cadmium, nickel and arsenic due to rapid industrialization combined with lax environmental enforcement, affecting about 13.9 percent of the country’s grain production.
“Heavy metal contamination of soil threatens public health, environment and national food security. This project is the first of its kind supported by the World Bank in China, and will be innovative in addressing heavy metal pollution in agricultural lands,” said Wendao Cao, World Bank’s Senior Agriculture Economist and Project Team Leader.
Hunan is the largest rice producing province in China, accounting for one tenth of the nation’s rice production. It is also home to nonferrous metal, nonferrous metallurgy, chemical, and mining industries which make up more than 80 percent of the province’s industry. Agricultural land in Hunan has been contaminated by industrial discharges of flu gas, wastewater and waste residue, and metal mine tailings. Soil is further affected by overuse of agrochemicals and poor farming practices, as well as acid rain caused by severe air pollution.
To address these problems, the Hunan Integrated Management of Agricultural Land Pollution Project will introduce a risk-based integrated approach. The project will support implementation of site-specific demonstration plans in selected farmlands of about 8,000 hectares in 15 participating counties, the development of an agricultural environmental monitoring database and a risk management tool, and the formulation of local regulations and technical standards for risk-based integrated agricultural land pollution management.
“We will also conduct studies on sustainable financing models, and assist the project counties and Hunan Province in developing action plans. Experience gained from the project will be disseminated in Hunan and China to maximize impact,” said Qing Wang, Senior Environmental Specialist and co-team leader for the project.
The total project cost is $111.94 million; the IBRD loan will finance $100 million and the rest will come from Hunan Provincial Government and participating counties. The project will be implemented over a period of six years from 2017 to 2023.
The project’s direct beneficiaries are farmers and farmers’ cooperatives in the selected farmlands that adopt the risk-based integrated approach to address heavy metal pollution. Through project support, the provincial and county-level governments will develop their capacity in applying the risk-based land management approach and managing heavy metal pollution sources.