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Research Interests

China's Food Security

ChinaFood is the acronym for my research on China's food security at the IIASA Land-use and Land-cover Change (LUC) project between the summer of 1996 and the end of 1999.

The main idea of this research was to bring together relevant arguments, models and data for assessing China's food security. In addition to in-depths analyses of various aspects of China's food system, I also collected and organized a large amount of relevant statistical data (at the province and often at the county level) in the form of tables, charts, maps and animations.

In the mid 1990s many publications on China's food security focused almost exclusively on just two issues: the scarcity of agricultural resources (arable land and water) and the impact of environmental degradation (see for instance, Lester Brown's "Wake up call" in which he doubted that China would be able to feed itself). Little thought had been given to demand-side factors of the food equation and to the reliability problems in Chinese statistics. There was also a remarkable lack of imagination in the literature when it came to technological innovation, economic reforms or improvement in agricultural management - which in the meantime turned out to be major factors of China's spectacular food production increases. I developed the ChinaFood CD-ROM and Web Site as a response to these narrow-minded, single-discipline studies of China's food problems, which in the 1980s and early 1990s often produced rather absurd results.

The ChinaFood CD-ROM and Web Site are also a pioneering work of electronic publication. They are organized as hyper-linked documents with thousands of internal and external connections that should help the reader to quickly jump to the relevant information. All arguments and data are connected to a Policy Evaluation Matrix, which is the conceptual framework of the study. It organizes the information according to six analytical questions for each of seven dimensions of food security - which gives the 42 cells of the matrix that are equivalent to the 42 chapters of the study.

 

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Browse the China-Food website: www.china-food-security.org

 

Copyright 2012 by Gerhard K. Heilig. All rights reserved.

Updated: 9 October 2013