Chinese Premier Li Keqiang speaks at the central rural work conference in Beijing.
The conference was held from December 22 to 23. Photos by Xie Huanchi
China to advance
By Liu Xinyong, Shi Hao, Fang Dong, Yu Wenjing and Wang Yu
China concluded a rural work conference on Tuesday of December 23, vowing to push forward agricultural modernization through reform and innovation.
The country made great progress in rural development in 2014 with its 11th consecutive bumper harvest and an increase in farm income, according to a statement released after the two-day central conference, which sets the tone for next year.
“However, China is facing unprecedented challenges if it wants to achieve sustained and stable development in the agricultural sector,” said the statement, citing rising agricultural production costs, impaired cultivation and limited arable land and fresh water.
Li Guoxiang, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said China’s agricultural production is confronted with surging costs, pressure for the government to subsidize agriculture and the constraints of resources and environment.
“If it stays this way, a question mark should be placed after whether China can achieve sustainable development of agriculture,” Li said.
To solve the problems, China must accelerate agricultural modernization and raise quality and efficiency of agriculture, Zhu Lizhi, an expert with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, told Xinhua.
The statement said that China will strive to transform the pattern of agricultural development, raise the output rate of the land, increase resource utilization rate to attain intensive and sustainable growth.
IMPORTANT BUT LESS DEVELOPED
Under the economic “new normal”, agricultural modernization is of great significance to stabilizing economic growth, adjusting structure and improving people’s livelihood.
Agricultural modernization is the foundation and pillar for China’s modernization drive, but it is a prominent weak point at present, the statement said.
“Compared with fast-advancing urbanization, industrialization and informatization, our country’s agricultural modernization is lagging far behind, seriously impeding the synchronized development of the four aspects,” said Li.
Top policymakers at the meeting pledged to make more efforts to speed up agricultural modernization in order to unleash farmer consumption potential and spur investment in rural infrastructure.
A growing agricultural sector will also forge new engines to propel China’s economic expansion, according to the statement.
FINDING THE WAY OUT
“Food security should be China’s top priority during the agricultural modernization process. China will keep cereal largely self-sufficient and staples absolutely safe,” the statement read.
Farmers are encouraged to form new agricultural entities in an innovative way to achieve economies of scale.
To facilitate associating farmers and their lands, China will guide orderly transfer of management rights of rural lands to new agricultural entities.
China will exploit agricultural resources in a more friendly and “greener” way to protect farm land and fresh water.
Policymakers decided to extend greater policy support and beef up financial support to underpin rural development.
China will actively push forward the construction of “new socialist countryside” and improve living environment for farmers.
The country will also wage a war against poverty and release more farmers from poverty. At the same time, rural residents are encouraged to take advantage of urbanization and start small businesses.
The Central Rural Work Conference is an annual event for Chinese policymakers to deliberate on and map out rural policies for next year.
The meeting discussed a guideline of deepening rural reform and advancing agricultural modernization.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (3rd from left) speaks at the central rural work conference
in Beijing. Photo by Xie Huanchi
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (3rd from left of back row) speaks at the central rural work
conference in Beijing. The conference was held from December 22 to 23. Chinese Vice Premier
Zhang Gaoli also attended the meeting. Photo by Xie Huanchi