Xi Focus: China pushes rural reform for rural vitalization

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BEIJING, July 23 (Xinhua) — Rural reforms in the late 1970s raised the curtain of China’s reform and opening up. More than 40 years on, a new round of rural reforms is ongoing to ensure rural progress and farmers’ well-being.

As the country races to meet its goal of eradicating absolute poverty this year as scheduled despite the COVID-19 epidemic, policies have been put in place to boost rural vitalization and enable rural residents to be more prosperous as President Xi Jinping believes lifting people out of poverty is not an end but the starting point to a new life.

Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, has stressed the importance of deepening reforms on many occasions, considering it key for rural vitalization.

The following facts and figures present China’s latest efforts in pushing forward rural reforms:

— Facilitating transfer of farmland management rights

Under China’s household contract responsibility system, all rural land is owned by rural collectives, which allocate contract rights for parcels of farmland to eligible households. The tenure of contract rights was 15 years in the 1980s and renewed for 30 years in 1998.

The country decided to extend the current round of contracts for another 30 years upon expiration, and rolled out pilot schemes this year for the extension.

As the country promotes the development of modern agriculture, small farm sizes and low productivity can be ameliorated by letting farmers transfer farmland to others for modern agricultural production.

Starting in 2014, the country began piloting a reform to separate farmland ownership rights, contract rights and management rights. The reform allows farmers to retain contract rights but transfer management rights.

The transfer has now covered more than 550 million mu (about 36.7 million hectares) of farmland, as more than 3.4 million agricultural entities helped farmers with standardized, efficient and scale production.

The country also vowed to press ahead with the pilot reform of the rural collective property rights system to cover all agriculture-related counties this year.

Since 2015, the government has organized four batches of rural collective property rights system pilot programs in 15 provincial regions. Such pilot programs have covered about 80 percent of the counties in the country.

— Developing high-standard arable land

Effective measures must be taken to protect black soil, Xi stressed Wednesday during an inspection tour in northeast China’s Jilin Province, where he visited a demonstration zone for green food production in Lishu County, Siping City to learn about the improvement of chernozem soil quality and the growth of corn.

The country strives to develop high-standard farmland, which is estimated to increase grain production capacity by 10 percent to 20 percent.

It aims to develop an additional 5.3 million hectares of high-standard farmland in 2020, taking the total to 53.3 million hectares by year-end. By the end of June, 54 percent of the annual target had been achieved, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

— Promoting rural financial support

The country vowed to enlarge the share of local government bonds used in agriculture and rural areas, increase government fiscal input, strengthen financial services and encourage social capital to invest in these fields.

In the first half of the year, 27 provinces issued a total of 86.5 billion yuan (about 12.37 billion U.S. dollars) of special local government bonds designated to support agriculture and rural areas.

Although the country’s fiscal expenditure fell 5.8 percent in the first half of the year, largely due to the COVID-19 epidemic, its spending on agriculture, forestry and water conservancy projects climbed 7.9 percent from one year earlier.

— Enhancing training for new farmers

Using livestreaming and social media to sell agricultural products, flying drones for sowing or crop dusting, employing soilless cultivation and micro-spray irrigation technology in greenhouses … these are increasingly the norm among the country’s modern farmers.

The country launched a three-year training program starting in 2019 to help farmers adapt to modern agricultural production. Two billion yuan was allocated from the central budget this year to the program, which was expected to train up to 1 million farmers.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, the country now has 16 million farmers who are well-educated, skilled and proficient in business management. Enditem

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