On January 19th and 20th, 2007, the kick-off meeting of the CATSEI-project took place in Amsterdam. The CATSEI-project will study the changes in agricultural trade and the social and environmental impacts that can be expected in the coming decades from China’s ongoing process of agricultural transition. This transition started with the decollectivisation programme of the late 1970s and has continued ever since, gradually under the increasing pressure of booming non-agricultural incomes, rising demand for meat, changing international trade regulations and aggravating problems of pollution and resource scarcity. In the project SOW-VU will cooperate with five partner institutes: CCAP (Centre for Chinese Agricultural Policies, Beijing), IFPRI (International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington), IIASA (International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria), LEI (Agricultural Economics Research Institute, The Hague) and SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies, London). The project is funded by the European Union as part of its 6th Framework Programme and will last for three years.
The project will not start from scratch but build upon earlier work of the participants in this field. The Chinagro welfare model, constructed in a previous EU-funded project and giving a detailed description of China’s agriculture at the level of 2433 separate counties, will be updated and extended in the course of the project and used as tool to integrate the different aspects of the issues under study. In order to take into account the impact of changes in China’s trade volumes on the world markets, especially from the point of view the European Union, a linkage will be established between the Chinagro-model, the GTAP-model of world trade and FEA-27, a model of the European Union agriculture for 27 member states. With respect to social aspects, the project will focus on the transmission of agricultural price changes to farmers and on their possibilities to benefit from the ongoing non-agricultural expansion, either within or outside their own region. To this end, the project will link available geo-referenced household surveys to geographical data sets and the most recent population census, whereas a limited own survey will be held to obtain supplementary information. The analysis of environmental impacts will cover especially the problems of water shortage in the North and the non-point pollution caused by the nutrient flows. Climate change risks will enter the picture by specifying alternative scenarios for the development of land resources and their potential yields per hectare, based on agro-ecological assessments.