There are more than 300 million farmers in China, but the per capita area of cultivated land is only 0.09 hectares, which is 56.5 per cent. below the global average. This makes China a country short of cultivated land resources, making the use of fertilisers critical to agricultural productivity and resulting in strong demand throughout China for fertiliser products. In 2011, China produced 60.3 million tonnes of fertiliser but demand is forecast to grow at an average of 3.3 per cent. annually to 2015 where demand will be a total of 262 million metric tonnes.
Hunan Province has a population of approximately 70 million people, with a rural population of 40 million. It is known as the “Granary of China” and is consistently in the top 10 Chinese agricultural provinces. Its principal crops are rice and grain, with lotus seeds, vegetables and cotton also being grown throughout the province. Typically, land in Hunan Province is very intensively farmed as demand for food and other agricultural produce throughout China outstrips its production. For certain crops, Hunan farmers typically have two harvests per year and so the land is rarely allowed to lie fallow. Consequently, there is significant reliance on and consistent demand for fertiliser products to replenish the land’s nutrients. This demand is expected to be supported in the future by the limited supply of arable land, rising rural incomes and government subsidies for farmers.