Progress in designating protected areas has generally been positive. It is clear that almost all countries in the region understand the importance of establishing terrestrial and aquatic natural reserves by creating national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and gene pool reserves. The number and area of protected areas in both South and Southeastern Asia has increased dramatically. The Pacific region has also shown a major increase in the number of protected areas, although the increases have been less dramatic.
Biological diversity has finally been accepted as a legitimate issue nationally and internationally in ESAP, with conventions on biological diversity and designation of protected areas. However, patterns of unsustainable use and conflicting policies contribute to continued losses throughout the region. With only 10 to 30% of natural habitats remaining in many countries, any further decrease will have serious consequences for biodiversity (ESCAP, 1995a). High rates of population and economic growth in most countries of the region suggest even greater losses will occur, unless decisive action is taken. Such action could include intensifying protected-area systems and zoological parks, botanical gardens, gene resource centers, seed banks and tissue culture techniques.
1.2.2 Production potential
188.8.131.52 Farm size
In general, the diversity in concepts used to define small farms makes definition difficult. By applying a common approach of size of landholdings or livestock numbers the overwhelming majority of these farms (87%) were in Asia. In Asia, China alone had almost half of the world's small farms, followed by India with 23%. Other leaders in the region, in descending order include Indonesia, Bangladesh and Viet Nam. Despite steady economic growth in many Asian countries over the decades, small farms still dominate in rural areas (Nagayets, 2005). Small farms characterize agriculture in Asia and small Pacific Island countries, while extremely large farms dominate in Australia. In wealthier countries such as Japan and the Republic of Korea, average farm size has been increasing, but at a slow pace. For example, between 1956 and 2003, average farm size in Japan increased just 0.60 ha. The increase in the Republic of Korea from 1969 to 2002 was 0.58 ha (Fan and Chan-Kang, 2003). In contrast, national average farm size is still decreasing in most Asian developing countries. For example, average farm size in Nepal decreased from 0.95 ha in 1992 to 0.79 ha in 2002. Similar trends occurred in Pakistan and the Philippines during the 1990s (FAO, 2006b). In India research demonstrated an association between decreasing farm size and more hunger and poverty. The study documented that the incidence of hunger among farmers with landholdings less than 0.5 ha was 32% and the incidence of poverty was 38%; the likelihood of being affected by hunger dropped to 12% and poverty dropped to 13% for farmers who cultivated more than 4 ha (Singh, 2004). But farms are becoming larger in dynamic agricultural areas close to large cities, such as Suphan Buri province near Bangkok, Thailand. From 1993 to 2003, total agricultural land in Suphan Buri declined, but the number of agricultural households declined even more rapidly. Families migrated to Bangkok
or assumed nonagricultural rural jobs. Active land rental markets have been important in the land consolidation in Suphan Buri (Dawe, 2005).
Urbanization created pressure on maintaining agricultural land and production. In 2005, the net loss of arable land was 361,600 ha, about 0.3%, of which 138,700 ha was used for construction. From 1998 to 2005, farmland decreased by 7.6 million ha, about 6.2% of the total amount of arable land. The per capita area of cropland in China was only 0.93 ha in 2005, 40% of the world average. To achieve a higher production rate from the small remaining area of cultivatable land, China became the world's largest consumer of fertilizers and the second largest of pesticides. Consequently, much cultivated land and farm produce have been contaminated, especially with pesticide residues (Fu et al., 2007).
184.108.40.206 Farming systems
Within the diverse agroecological systems and variations in natural resources, the region has developed unique farming systems. Rice-wheat and rainfed mixed farming cover about half of the land in South Asia. Rice-wheat farming is characterized by a summer paddy crop followed by an irrigated winter wheat crop, sometimes with a short spring vegetable crop. Rice-wheat farming covers a broad swathe across India and Pakistan, from the Indus irrigation area in Sindh and Punjab and across the Indo-Gangetic plain to the northeast of Bangladesh. About 60% of rice-wheat land is cultivated, about three-quarters irrigated. The system integrates crops and livestock significantly; about 119 million cattle are used for draft power, milk and manure for composting. About 73 million small ruminants are kept, principally for meat. The area has 484 million people, 254 million in agriculture.
Rainfed mixed farming covers the largest area within the subcontinent and, with the exception of a small area in northern Sri Lanka, is confined to India. This system covers 147 million ha, with about 59% under cultivation. Rice, wheat, pearl millet, sorghum, a wide variety of pulses, many oilseeds, sugarcane, vegetables and fruit are grown. About 16% of the cultivated area is irrigated. About 126 million bovines and 64 million small ruminants are partially integrated with cropping. In many instances, relatively small areas are irrigated from reservoirs. In recent decades, tube wells have contributed to stable cereal production. Vulnerability stems from substantial climatic and economic variability. Poverty is extensive and its severity increases markedly after droughts.
Three farming systems predominate in the land area in East Asia and the Pacific: upland intensive mixed 19%, pastoral 20%, arid 20%. These can be further classified, depending on the production systems.
Upland intensive mixed farming is found in uplands and hills of moderate altitude and slope in humid and subhumid agroecological zones. The total area of the system is 314 million ha, with an agricultural population of 310 million— the second most populous system, after lowland rice, in the region. The cultivated area is 75 million ha, of which less than one-quarter is irrigated. This is the most widespread and most heterogeneous farming system in the region, including some remnant shifting cultivation, with major areas in all countries of East and Southeast Asia. The system is the