China's big step in rural reform; mapping tiny plots of farm land
Some efforts to drive down costs as the project goes nationwide could themselves prove costly. Cheaper satellite positioning systems might be less accurate and software that fails to integrate future land transfers would make the mapping exercise a waste.
Replacing the pilots' lengthy village-to-village explanations with a state media campaign might be quicker, but could alarm villagers suspicious after decades of state-backed land grabs.
Yangwang villager Yang Changpei worried he'd lose his land when he first heard about the program. Careful explanations soothed his fears, although he didn't see the point of clearer certificates when villagers all know each other.
His neighbour Jian, by contrast, was enthusiastic.
The berms that villagers use to identify their plots could disappear when fields are merged, leaving villagers in need of some other way to prove what is theirs, Jian said.
"If you explain it, people across China would understand how important this is."