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Can Arable Land Alone Ensure Food Security? The Concept of Arable Land Equivalent Unit and Its Implications in Zhoushan City, China

  • Tan, Y.
  • He, J.
  • Yu, Z.
  • Tan, Y.

The requisition-compensation balance of farmlands (RCBF) is a strict Chinese policy that aims to ensure food security. However, the process of supplementing arable land has substantially damaged the ecological environment through the blind development of grasslands, woodlands, and wetlands to supplement arable land. Can arable land alone ensure food security? To answer this question, this study introduced the concepts of arable land equivalent unit (ALEU) and food equivalent unit (FEU) based on the idea of food security. Zhoushan City in Zhejiang Province, China was selected as the research area. This study analyzed the ALEU supply and demand capabilities in the study area and presented the corresponding policy implications for the RCBF improvement. The results showed that the proportion of ALEU from arable land and waters for aquaculture is from 46:54 in 2009 to 31:69 in 2015, thereby suggesting that aquaculture waters can also be important in food security. Under three different living standards (i.e., adequate food and clothing, well-off, and affluence), ALEU from arable land can barely meet the needs of the permanent resident population in the study area. However, ALEU from aquaculture waters can provide important supplementation. Therefore, we suggest that food supply capability from land types other than the arable land be taken seriously. Furthermore, RCBF can be improved with ALEU as core of the balance. © 2018 by the authors.

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