December 30, 2011


Agriculture remains essential to China


As agriculture is critical in ensuring stable prices, fast economic growth and social stability, China must work to guarantee the supply of major farm produce, Chinese Vice-Premier Hui Liangyu said Wednesday (Dec 28).


Hui said the agricultural sector has witnessed continuous, comprehensive and faster development this year, which has played a key role in curbing inflation and maintaining social stability.


"We will promote agricultural modernisation as we push forward industrialisation and urbanisation," Hui said.


Scientific and technological advancement and transformation of the agriculture growth pattern will be the key and fundamental solutions to developing a modern agriculture, as environment and resources impose greater constraints, Minister of Agriculture Han Changfu said.


The vice premier also highlighted the effective supply of farm produce, fiscal spending on infrastructure building, and farmers' livelihoods as the major fields on which the country will work next year.


Government data showed grain output rose to record high 571.21 million tonnes this year. The figure represented an on-year increase of 4.5% and marked the eighth consecutive year of growth for the country's grain output.


It also marked the fifth straight year that China's total grain output exceeded 500 million tonnes, which indicated a more consolidated foundation for food security in the world's most populous nation.


Han, however, warned that rising labour costs, more expensive production materials such as diesel, and limited space to expand crop acreage all impose tough challenges.


Han said the country sought to maintain its grain output at a level above 525 million tonnes next year by stabilising the total acreage for growth of grain crops and enhancing yield rate.


"Any slight failure in agriculture will hamper the country's economic development and social stability," Premier Wen Jiabao said Tuesday.


Wen also said that agricultural work is of particular significance next year, faced with the complicated macroeconomic condition and the dual pressures of an economic slowdown and a rising inflation. Meanwhile, he urged more efforts to be taken to protect farmers' rights in land properties.


Gan Zangchun, a state-land supervisor with the Ministry of Land and Resources, said land requisition must be reformed to ensure farmers' rights as rapid urbanisation has given rise to frequent land disputes in recent years.


To guarantee agricultural production, the country's fiscal spending on water-related infrastructure surged 43.8% on-year to RMB216.3 billion (US$34 billion) during winter 2010 and spring 2011, an official with the Ministry of Water Resources said.


The spending will further rise 10% to RMB258.4 billion (US$41 billion) during this winter and spring next year.


A finance official said earlier that fiscal spending of the central government on agriculture-related projects and farmers is likely to top RMB1.04 trillion (US$164 billion) this year, which represents a 21.3% surge compared to that last year.


Apart from expenditures on construction of agricultural infrastructure, more subsidies will be given to help impoverished farmers. This year, around RMB141 billion (US$22 billion) of funds were deployed to subsidise farmers to purchase materials such as machinery and improve crop varieties.

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