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Yingtian jiyao 營田輯要

Jan 31, 2022 © Ulrich Theobald

Yingtian jiyao 營田輯要 "Essentials of land management" is a book on agriculture written by Huang Fuchen 黃輔辰 (1798-1866), courtesy name Qindao 琴隝, from Guiyang 貴陽, Guizhou.

Huang obtained his jinshi degree in 1835 and was made xxx 吏部主事. In 1863, the governor of Shaanxi, Liu Rong 劉蓉 (1816-1873), planned to create agro-colonies (tuntian 屯田) in order to produce sufficient supplies for the military campaigns in the region, and asked Huang to compile a handbook with instructions for this project. Huang compiled this handbook in a question-and-answer pattern in which he presented solutions for twelve typical difficulties. The result was a book with the length of 4 juan. As an acknowledgement of his efforts, Huang was made salt inspector (yanfadao 鹽法道) of Shaanxi. The final version of the book was printed in 1866.

The largest part of the text consists of quotations from older books, but enriched with commentaries by Huang. The introductory part (Juanshou 卷首) is a general overview. The first fascicle gives hints at the selection of soil, survey, opening for cultivation, measures for cultivation and the interplay between farmers and the authorities, the hiring of labour, and the collection of yields. The second part focuses on irrigation. Part three warns the reader to avoid problems encountered in the past, like wrong allotment, exploitation of farmers, illegal sales, falsified reports, unbalanced taxation, etc. The last chapter goes back to agricultural matters and explains how to take precautions against disasters, drill wells, apply manure, distribute seeds, or to cultivate grain and vegetables. It is the largest part of the book.

Huang Fuchen's book reflects 2000 years of experience with state-organized agro-colonies and demonstrates that the system brought many problems with it. Huang therefore concluded that the tuntian system must be applied with care and not exploit the farmers working on the fields.

The most widespread version is the 1864 edition that is found in Huang's collected writings Fenglin Huangshi jiasheng 楓林黃氏家乘. A modern, annotated version was published in 1984 by the Nongye Press 農業出版社.

Sources:
Peng Shijiang 彭世獎 (1995). "Yingtian jiyao 營田輯要", in Zhongguo nongye baike quanshu 中國農業百科全書, Vol. Nongye lishi 農業歷史卷 (Beijing: Nongye chubanshe), 387.
Lin Qiye 林其錟 (1994). "Yingtian jiyao 營田輯要", in Zhou Gucheng 周谷城, ed. Zhongguo xueshu mingzhu tiyao 中國學術名著提要, Vol. Jingji 經濟卷 (Shanghai: Fudan daxue chubanshe), 490.
Lu Jingkang 魯靖康 (2009). "Yingtian jiyao tuntian sixiang kaoxi 《營田輯要》屯田思想考析", Yili Shifan Xueyuan xuebao (Shehui kexue ban) 伊犁師範學院學報(社會科學版), 2009 (4): 36-38.
Yang Zhimin 楊直民 (1994). "Yingtian jiyao tiyao 《營田輯要》提要", in Ren Jiyu 任繼愈, ed. Zhongguo kexue jishu dianji tonghui 中國科學技術典籍通彙, part Nongxue 農學 (Zhengzhou: Henan jiaoyu chubanshe), Vol. 4, 1011-1012.