Photo Slideshow: Irrigating Northeastern China’s Breadbasket

By J. Carl Ganter and Keith Schneider

The northeast region of China, including Heilongjiang, Liaoning and Jilin provinces, is among the world’s most important breadbaskets.

Earlier this year, as Circle of Blue reported in this Choke Point: China article, China’s central government announced a five-year, $US 6.3 billion program to rebuild and expand irrigation networks in Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, and eastern Inner Mongolia. Replacing northeast China’s leaky, half-century-old, mud-bottom irrigation canals with concrete channels and expanding the irrigation network to the expanses of farmlands that are not currently irrigated will raise yields per hectare by an estimated 20 percent or more over the next decade. But deep doubts abound in universities and on the street with regard to China’s relentless pursuit of ever-larger harvests and the rising risks to erodible land, water supplies, water quality, and public safety that China seems prepared to accept. Click on the photos below to open a gallery of images from northern China.

China fishing fish fisherman fishermen draining canal irrigation agriculture food production Liaohe River near Xinmin Liaoning ProvinceChina agriculture food production water use irrigation canal Liaohe River Xinmin Liaoning ProvinceGao Wan Qiu soya beans farmer canal irrigation feeder channel rice crop Xinmin Liaoning China food agriculture production
Ba Yi Canal Hun River China water irrigation network rice fields Su Jia Tun district Shenyang Liaoning Province agriculture food productionWang Jing Hua China farmer corn harvest corn Su Jia Tun district Shenyang LiaoningWang Jing Hua China farmer corn harvest corn Su Jia Tun district Shenyang Liaoning
irrigation canal Liaohe River Shenbei Liaoning Province China agriculture food productionChina farm irrigation channel corn field Tongliao Inner MongoliaChina irrigation system corn field harvest state-funded industrial farmGolden Mountain Seed Company Tongliao Inner Mongolia.
Farmers harvest corn Tongliao Inner Mongolia ChinaLiu De corn harvest Tongliao Inner Mongolia China farm farmer farmingCorn fields Shuangliao City Jilin Province China major grain producer agriculture
China farmers green beans harvest winnow Tongyu County Jilin ProvinceWan Ping China conservationist NGO founder nature reserve Ke Er Qin grasslands Tongyu County Jilin Province
Outside Urumqi irrigation canal xinjiang chinaGrasslands Inner Mongolia highway desertificationGreen Wall of China trees stop desertification drifting sands erosion Inner Mongolia grasslands
Sand-pocked grasslands Inner Mongolia Beijing Xilinhot erosion desertificationXilingol Grasslands Xilinhot Inner Mongolia desertification erosion sand
heilongjiang province northeast china food water energy rice farminghongxinglong heilongjiang province youyi farm rice paddy northeast china food water energy Choke Point Chinahongxinglong liang jun tractor bronze statue soviet union era food water energy Choke Point China
farmer shengyang rice paddyhenan province golden wheat harvest food water energy chinahenan province graveyard circle of blue china food energy water grain















Photos by Adam Dean, as well as by J. Carl Ganter and Keith Schneider of Circle of Blue.

Choke Point: China is an on-going Circle of Blue series, produced in partnership with the Wilson Center’s China Environment Forum. Through frontline reporting, the project finds new and powerful evidence of a ruinous confrontation between water, food, and energy that is visible across China and is virtually certain to grow more dire over the next decade. Choke Point: China is part of Global Choke Point, which is uncovering new data and strategic narratives about water, food, and energy in the world’s most vulnerable regions.

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