Speeding up Innovation in Agricultural Science and Technology and Building up the Capability to Guarantee Agricultural Product Supplies

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February 2, 2012

Chen Xiwen

Deputy Head of Central Rural Work Leading Group

Director of the Office of Central Rural Work Leading Group

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Good morning!

Yesterday, Xinhua News Agency broadcast Opinions of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council on Speeding up Innovation in Agricultural Science and Technology and Building up the Capacity to Guarantee Agricultural Product Supplies. This is the ninth high-priority policy document focusing on agriculture and rural areas issued by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council [ed: the first policy document issued every year is considered to be of primary importance in setting the agenda for the year]. Now, I would like to brief you on the background information and major contents of the document.

I. On the Current Development of Agriculture and Rural Areas

The year 2011 saw frequent extreme climates, soaring agricultural costs and arduous tasks of stabilizing market prices. The CPC Central Committee and the State Council made scientific judgments and resolute decisions, and adopted a series of policies to strengthen, benefit and enrich farmers; various regions and departments also made joint efforts to earnestly implement the deployments of the CPC Central Committee and the spirits of the top document by constantly increasing investment and strengthening their work. Thanks to these efforts, the agricultural and rural work maintained strong development impetus, initiating a good beginning for the development of the 12th Five-Year Plan. We have made great progress in improving grain production, increasing farmers' incomes, water conservancy project construction, improving people's livelihood, modern agriculture and new countryside construction. 2011 was the best year in this century in terms of agricultural and rural development as a whole. The progresses are mainly:

First, good agricultural harvest is leading to stable growth in main agricultural product production in an all-round way. Last year, China produced 1.1424 trillion jin (2 jin equals 1 kg) of grain, 49.4 billion jin more than that of last year. China's grain production realized growth for eight consecutive years, and annual production has exceeded 1.1 trillion jin for five consecutive years. We can see several prominent features in grain production growth last year: (1) The production of summer grain, early paddy and autumn grain increased; (2) The production of paddy, wheat and maize went up with their productions combined to be more than 1 trillion jin; (3) Commodity grain bases have made great contributions. Production increased by 44.8 billion jin in 13 major geographic areas, accounting for 90.5 percent of growth nationwide; particularly in the four provinces and autonomous regions in northeast China, grain production increased by 10 percent, or 28 billion jin, accounting for 56.6 percent of grain increment nationwide; (4) We improved the per unit area yield by means of science and technology. Last year, the per unit area yield reached 688.8 jin every mu (15 mu equals 1 hectare), 25.6 jin more than that of the previous year, contributing 86 percent to the grain production growth; (5) The great growth of grain production last year was achieved on the basis of productive growth in the previous years, which was totally different from the previous recovery-based growth, which usually occurred after grain production decreased. Meanwhile, the production of other main agricultural products also increased in an all-round way.

Second, positive momentum is leading to rapid growth of farmers' income in an all-round way. Last year, farmers' per capita net income reached 6,977 yuan, more than 1,000 yuan higher than the previous year, setting a record high. Actual income growth hit 11.4 percent, setting a new record in this century. The high growth has lasted for eight consecutive years, the first of its kind after China's reform and opening up. The rapid growth of farmers' incomes last year was attributed to the large number of agricultural products, high prices, the large number of farmers working in urban areas, their high salary, the large number of policies strengthening, benefiting and enriching farmers and their good effects. In 2010, the increment of farmers' incomes exceeded that of urban residents; in 2011, the farmers' income, again, rose faster than those of urban residents. The income growth of farmers in central and west China was higher than those in east China, showing the trend of narrowing down the income gaps between urban and rural areas and among different regions.

Third, good development of modern agriculture is accelerating the promotion of new countryside construction in an all-round way. China has basically established a region-based agricultural development layout, greatly strengthened construction of farmland water conservancy projects, rapidly developed agricultural facilities and continued to improve the contribution rate of agricultural sci-tech progress and the level of farming mechanization. The number of technicians instructing farmers to prevent and alleviate disasters and utilize improved varieties and farming methods reached a new high. China's agricultural production and operation is becoming more professional, standardized, massive and intensive. Based on production development, rural planning and environmental rectification are being unfolded and the construction of ecological homeland and beautiful rural areas is accelerated.

Fourth, improvement of people's livelihood is lifting the public services in rural areas in an all-round way. China continued to strengthen infrastructure construction in rural areas such as water supply, power supply, road construction, gas supply and housing construction and accelerate social development in science, education, culture, health care and insurance sectors. The fund raising standard for the New Rural Cooperative Medical System was raised to 230 yuan and the system has covered 97 percent of the farmers in China. Rural Subsistence Allowance System has covered all the more than 53 million people who need the system. The pilot project of New Rural Social Security System was promoted to cover more than 60 percent of agricultural counties (cities and banners). More than 100 million farmers have been enjoying their pensions.

Fifth, farmers' optimism is leading to the strengthening of grassroots organizational construction and social management in rural areas in an all-round way. Grassroots organizational construction in rural areas was constantly strengthened; the villagers autonomy system under the leadership of the Party was further improved; the Party's policies to strengthen, benefit and enrich farmers were concretely implemented; and society in rural areas continued to be harmonious and stable. The sound agricultural development and good situation in rural areas energetically supported stable and fast economic development and effectively maintained the general situation of reform, development and stability.

While maintaining huge achievements in agricultural and rural development, we also clearly realized that the better the situation is, the more sluggish we might become, and grain production decreases are more likely to occur after a period of good harvests. The following three aspects worry us greatly: First, can the momentum in rural and agricultural development can be sustained? It is very difficult to avoid detours and make further progress on the high benchmark and high level. Second, can we effectively deal with the rapid increase of the prices of essential factors of production and frequent market fluctuations? There are numerous limitations to continue to improve efficiency of agricultural production and mobilize farmers' enthusiasm under high costs and high risks. Third, will the emerging trend of narrowing down the income gap between urban and rural areas and development gap among different regions continue? It is an extremely heavy task to constantly increase people's benefits and enable farmers to better enjoy the fruits of development while meeting the high requirements of high growth.

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