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According to a government plan announced on Aug. 1, China will pay farmers to turn animal poo into fertilizer and power, as Beijing cracks down on agricultural pollution that has for years leaked into rivers and lakes, angering Chinese residents. The Ministry of Agriculture gave no details about the size of the subsidies, but the move could be a big step toward curbing chemical fertilizer use and cutting water pollution.

 The plan includes setting up recycling programs by 2020 in 200 major counties that have livestock farms.

In China, how to better dispose of animal waste has become a particular problem due to the fast growth of poultry and hog farming over the past decade to meet demand for higher quality meat. Chinese livestock farms generate nearly 4 billion tonnes of waste annually, according to the agriculture ministry.

Biogas technology, which can help save on electrical costs, is too expensive for many farmers unless the government helps. Those researching and using organic fertilizer will also get preferential treatment on loans, taxes, power use and land rent, said Zhong Luqing, Director of the Fertilizer Department at the Ministry of Agriculture.

The plan is part of Beijing’s effort to limit chemical fertilisers and pesticides, which have contaminated soil and water. China uses about one-third of the world’s fertilisers. Beijing has said it was targeting zero growth of chemical fertilizer and pesticide by 2020. It has urged farmers to use less chemical fertilizer and turn to animal manure instead.

Read the full article on Reuters