Suzhou Industrial Park
The Suzhou Industrial Park is located in Suzhou, China and is largely made up of investments and input from Singapore. Because of considerable economic success experienced by Singapore in less than 30 years of gaining independence, Chinese investors sought support from Singaporean investors and its government towards growing the economy. The Chinese delegation was driven to gain from the Singaporean management styles. The park is an essential economic cooperation project between the governments of China and Singapore. The industrial park has been of immense benefit to local farmers as it accelerated consumption of local goods and induced export of food products.
For the industrial park to be built, the government had to acquire land from the farmers and providing them with resettlement options. The county government of Suzhou was tasked with providing the villagers and farmers with adequate compensation in line with the central guidelines (Yansui and Rongxin 25). The value of land acquired from the farmers made considerations of the type of crops grown by the farmers and the overall value of land held by the farmers and villagers. The race for foreign capital has increased over the years as a result of increased economic activities in China. There exists a conflict between the need to conserve agricultural land and the growing economic development seen in China.
Industrialization as a result of globalization and urbanization are increasingly taking up agricultural land. Agricultural land in China has gained momentum as a result of what academics term as “development zone fever” in the country. Institutional considerations and local governments are largely to blame for the loss of land traditionally utilized for agricultural activities. Research indicates that economic and social development in China has been achieved over the years at the expense of the environmental and food security of the country. Famine and hunger are constant reoccurring sociopolitical issues as a result of the growing population in the country.
Food security has been considered as a primary precursor for market reforms in China. This is because a large part of the population, more than 100 million people, suffered from chronic food shortages resulting in decline in work capacity, high incidences of morbidity and stunted economic growth that was reliant on labor. A household responsibility system was largely in place in the 1980s that owned land collectively for farming activities.
Abandonment of the collectivist approach towards owning land has contributed largely to improvements in food security in the country. However, the threats to food security are evident in the form of an increase in the level of industrialization and urbanization witnessed in the country. The decline in arable land as a result of establishment of industrial development zones such as the Suzhou Industrial Park contributes to the decline in the number of farmers and players in the agricultural sector.
The establishment of industrial parks is seen as a means of enhancing free trade between countries as in the case of Suzhou Industrial Park. The park was developed with an aim of providing market opportunities for both countries. With the growth of the industrial zone in Suzhou from increasing economic activities, there has been a decline in the size of arable farmland that can be used to cultivate and produce crops for consumption by the public.
The competition for vital resources such as water and land are among some of the primary determinants of successful agricultural activities in the county of Suzhou. A majority of the land that would have otherwise been used for agricultural activities is used for the industrial activities thus denying farmers the opportunity to engage in production of food crops and related products. On the other hand, technology and industrialization have provided farmers in industrial regions such as Suzhou Industrial Park with avenues to embrace modern methods for agriculture. This has resulted in the transformation from the traditional forms of agriculture into modern agriculture. This has resulted in enhancement of primary farming inputs for farmers as well as overall agro-productivity for farmers in such areas.
Such has been achieved at the expense of resulting negative effects such as soli and water pollution, decline in soil fertility and water sources, environmental pollution and the decline in biodiversity. Sustainable agriculture and development of rural areas are among some of the main benefits that have been accrued from modernization and increased industrial activity such as the development of the Suzhou Industrial Park. This has been termed as the end of conventional agriculture given that fiber and food production are its main purposes.
Agricultural elements in Suzhou flourished significantly under the direct control that was exercised by the county government. Industries provided an estimated 1.95% of total GDP in Suzhou in the year 2007 (Yansui 19). The increase in population and economic activities there has been a significant increase in the number of rural industries in Suzhou as per data dating to the year 2007. Industries such as tea, silkworm, fish farming and rice farming have experienced significant growth with the increase investments in the form of foreign direct investments such as evident in the Suzhou Industrial Park. In addition, the capita net income for an individual resident in the rural Suzhou was at 9,278 Yuan as compared to 3,587 Yuan as the total average capita net income for residents nationwide.
This can be associated with the enhanced access to local and international markets for their farm produce using the network that has been established as a result of the development of the Suzhou Industrial Park. Research indicates that farmland in Suzhou declined from 0.07ha in the year 1978 to 0.04ha in the year 2006. as a result, farmers who have traditionally been engaged in farming activities transferred to other tertiary industries that were brought about by the establishment of industries as initiated by the Suzhou Industrial Park (Fugang, & Yansui 34). Additionally the overall per capita for the rural population declined between an estimated 0.07-0.10ha whereas per capita for agricultural labor rose from an estimate of 0.2ha in the year 1978 to 0.7ha in the year 2006 (Yansui 23).
With industrialization and modernization, there has been an overall increase in agricultural production Suzhou. This is largely attributed to the shift in agricultural approaches employed by the residents in the county from an extensive approach to an intensive approach. The region has been able to achieve self-sufficiency as well as surpluses that are used to meet annual commercial needs for the entire country. Farming system reforms have been accrued from the entry of foreign investors as Chinese farmers and institutions borrow from Singapore in terms of management of farming and industrial activity. This has resulted in the increase in the economic crop are while reducing the overall grain area in the region.
Farmers in Suzhou have become market oriented over the years with increased focus on crop and product quality and farming efficacy. Urban orientation, externalities, ecology an adjustment of the agricultural structure to provide efficient breeding and planting, enhanced aquaculture, animal rearing and horticulture are all examples of the resulting benefits of the shift in agricultural approaches adopted by farmers in the region. This has been largely attributed to the exposure provided by contact with foreign direct investments such as the industrial park and other industries within rural areas of Suzhou. In the year 2001, the estimated area of economic crop to planting ratio was at 51% (Suzhou Statistical Bureau 29). This is indicative of significant progress that has enabled the farmers in the region to accrue significant increase in income returns for farming activities.
With increase in the number of industries and a decline in the number of farmers, a majority of farmers, based on previous research, indicate that their incomes are high and attributed largely to non-agricultural activities. Additionally, the development of the Suzhou Industrial Park has had a catalytic effect towards the development of new urban centers and cities. This provides farmers with opportunities to transfer their labor to factories as opposed to farming resulting in a decline in food production.
Additionally, the year 2006 much of the net income for a single household rose to as much as 72,514 Yuan with less than 10% coming from agricultural activities (Yansui 26). Furthermore, research also provides that there is a high demand for industrial jobs given that they promise high returns for residents as compared to the labor-intensive farming activities. On the other hand, it is important to note that farmers currently engaged in agriculture have evolved to modern techniques that promise high outputs and quality of products.
Modern agricultural techniques have been oriented towards export-oriented agriculture. The exposure to foreign markets and consumers provided by the establishment of the Suzhou Industrial park has been essential towards improving the living standards of farmers in the region. The industrial park has been able to provide an entry point for foreign direct investments into agriculture thus easing the reliance on small-scale farmers for food and other commercial crops.
Enterprise led agriculture is also another important feature that owes its growth to the entry foreign players in the region. Additionally, the establishment of technology parks in the region has been a driver of innovation in agriculture due to the initial entry of foreign involvement through the industrial park. At the end of the year 2006, an estimated 30 agricultural zones had been established in a majority of districts within the Suzhou County. This contributes to agricultural innovation and enhanced agricultural output in the entire country.
Yansui, Liu and Zhai Rongxin. “Dynamic Evolvement of Agricultural System and Typical Patterns of Modern Agriculture in Coastal China: A Case of Suzhou”, China Geography. Science Volume19. no.3 (2009):249–257.Print.
Fugang, Zhang and Liu Yansui. “Dynamic mechanism and models of regional rural development in China” Acta Geographica Sinica Volume 63. No.2 (2008): 115–122. Print.
Suzhou Statistical Bureau. Suzhou Statistical Yearbook. Beijing: China Statistics Press, 1979–2007.Print.
Yansui, Liu. “Rural transformation development and new countryside construction in eastern coastal area of China.” Acta Geographica Sinica Volume 62. No.6 (2007): p.563–570. Print.