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The Second Phase of the Grain for Green Program: Adapting the Largest Reforestation Program in the World to the New Conditions in Rural China


This paper introduces the second phase of the Grain for Green. The first phase ran from 1999 to 2014, and the second phase started in 2015. The second phase of the GfG (GfG/2) addresses some problems of the first phase (GfG/1), in particular the lack of income for the farmers, as well as some changes to the rural areas, in particular the small number of remaining farmers. The paper describes how the GfG/2 (unlike the GfG/1) encourages farmers to organize themselves in cooperatives, or work with investors, and grow fruit trees to generate sustainable incomes. The paper also describes the constraints that prevent the smooth implementation of the GfG/2, in particular the insufficient financial support, the fact that some of the land that should be converted is “essential farmland”, and the small and scattered pieces of farmland. The paper argues that in spite of this, the program is likely to succeed, and help farmers generate sustainable incomes. The paper is based in four periods of fieldwork in Chongqing Municipality, Shaanxi Province, and Yunnan Province and extensive interviews of farmers and government officers.

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Fig. 1
Fig. 2


  1. In 2016 a new phase of the GfG was introduced.

  2. Since farmers joined at different times in different provinces, as the GfG gradually expanded nation-wide after 1999, the time the subsidies end varies according to location.


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The work described in this paper has been partially supported by a Faculty Research Grant from the Faculty of Social Sciences of Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China (project no. FRG2/15-16/098), and partially supported by a grant from the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China (project no. 12305116).

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Correspondence to Claudio O. Delang.

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Delang, C.O. The Second Phase of the Grain for Green Program: Adapting the Largest Reforestation Program in the World to the New Conditions in Rural China. Environmental Management 64, 303–312 (2019).

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