NW China province boasts largest organic grassland

Qinghai has become China's biggest producer of organic livestock products after years of grassland restoration and herding control, local authorities said.

The northwestern province has about 4 million hectares of grassland, the largest area in China, approved for organic animal husbandry, with 3.8 million heads of livestock, according to the Qinghai Department of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry.

Wang Huilin, an official in charge of animal husbandry with the department, said Qinghai has 961 rural cooperatives working on organic animal husbandry and a number of factories and warehouses for such products.

The province has been promoting organic herding while enforcing grassland protection in recent years. Organic farming puts less strain on pasture with a relatively low output.

Expanding human settlements and over-gracing used to bring severe degradation on Qinghai's 36 million hectares of grasslands until the government started to resettle herders and reduce herding in 2005.

The province has banned herding on 16 million hectares of degraded grasslands and limited cattle numbers on 15 million hectares, according to Wang.