‘China grows enough staples to feed its 1.4bn people. Output of grains has risen more than 40% since 2003. Cereal yields per hectare are higher than Canada’s. But these feats have come at a cost. China uses twice as much fertiliser and pesticide per hectare as the world average, contributing to catastrophic levels of soil pollution. In northern China, the country’s bread basket, wheat farmers use far more water than this bone-dry region can afford or replace. And because food quantity has taken priority over quality, there have been huge food scares. The rural economy remains backward. A recent agricultural census showed there were 314m people employed in farming in 2016. That is 40% of China’s workforce. Yet agriculture accounts for less than 9% of GDP, which means that rural labour is still extremely unproductive,’ (‘Dreaming big’, The Economist, Jan 13th 2018, p48).