Agricultural Produce Makes Leap Forward

Zhao Huanxin

The central government's policy of making agriculture a top priority has yielded bumper harvests in many fields.

During its ninth Five-Year Plan, China has enhanced its grain production capacity, amplified its supply of farm produce, and reinforced agricultural infrastructure.

Among its many achievements, the country has accomplished a historical leap from a shortage of major farm produce to a surplus of these products.

Production capacity up

The country's annual grain output since 1995 has averaged 504.8 million tons, with grain production capacity standing at around 500 million tons, obtaining the ninth Five-Year Plan objective in advance, according to the latest estimates of the State Development Planning Commission.

China is now the world's largest producer of grain, cotton, rapeseeds, tobacco, meat, eggs, aquatic products and vegetables.

Its annual yields of vegetable oils and aquatics increased by 25.7 percent and 98.4 percent, respectively, from the eighth Five-Year Plan (1990-1995) to 23.2 million tons and 37.3 million tons, according to commission sources.

The country's per capita share of grain had increased from 387 kilograms in 1995 to 406 kilograms last year, with each person owning 47.5 kilograms of meat, 32.9 kilograms of aquatic products and 17 kilograms of eggs, all surpassing the world's average.

Growing-mix optimized

In response to market changes, China has taken bold initiatives in readjusting its agricultural structure, optimizing its mix of crops and improving rural economic efficiency.

In 1995, 73.4 percent of the country's crop-growing area was reserved for producing cereals. Last year, the figure dropped to 72.4 percent.

The area planted with cash crops has instead been upped significantly.

Edible oil-bearing crops, for instance, have increased from 8.7 percent in 1995 to nearly 9 percent in 1999.

More funds for sector

To shore up sustainable development of agriculture and the rural economy, China has expanded its investment in agriculture, forest, water conservation and meteorological infrastructure facilities.

In 1995, the funds poured into infrastructure facilities in agricultural, forest, animal husbandry and water conservation sectors totaled 21.9 billion yuan (US$2.6 billion). The figure rocketed by 3.5 folds to hit 77 billion yuan (US$9.3 billion) last year.

As a result, China completed a batch of key infrastructure projects during the ninth Five-Year Plan period. The projects now play a key role in advancing economic growth in rural areas.

Technology helps

Technological progress is also pushing the agricultural sector onto the fast track.

The country now has 784,000 large and medium-sized tractors for agricultural use. More than 60 percent of its grain fields are plowed by tractors.

(China Daily 09/25/2000)