SCIO briefing on agriculture and rural development

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Mr. Han Changfu, minister of agriculture
Mr. Han Jun, director of the Office of the Central Rural Work Leading Group
Mr. Ye Zhenqin, vice minister of agriculture
Mr. Wu Hongyao, deputy director of the Office of the Central Rural Work Leading Group

Hu Kaihong, spokesperson of the State Council Information Office

Sept. 29, 2017

We worked to improve living conditions in rural areas, with waste and sewage treatment as the focus. Rural production and living conditions have undergone significant changes. With increased support to rural compulsory education, the conditions for schools have been further improved. New systems for rural cooperative medical care and assistance for treating major and serious diseases were put in place. We increased subsistence allowances, benefits and basic pension benefits for entitled groups. The culture and sports industries have become more prosperous. Take the new rural cooperative medical care system as an example: financial subsidies at all levels reached 450 yuan this year, a twofold increase since 2012.

By the end of this August, over 500 million urban and rural residents have been covered by endowment insurance, among which 488 million were rural residents; over 150 million people reaching the age of 60 have been able to draw a pension. The income of farmers has been growing faster than urban residents for five consecutive years. The income gap between urban and rural residents fell from 2.88:1 in 2012 to 2.72:1 last year.

We have also carried out targeted poverty alleviation. By the end of last year, 55.64 million poor people in rural areas had been enabled to shake off poverty steadily, and the incidence of poverty in the country dropped from 10.2 to 4.5 percent. In the process of promoting new type urbanization, we have promoted basic public services in urban areas to cover all permanent residents. From 2012 to 2016, 60 million people originally with a rural household registration were able to transfer to urban household registration.

We have been making full use of the unique advantages of the countryside to foster new industries like rural e-commerce, leisure agriculture and rural tourism, and promote integrated development of the primary, secondary and tertiary industries in rural areas. With coordinated planning of urban and rural areas, the agriculture sector and rural areas have demonstrated new appeal. More people are moving or returning to the countryside to start their own businesses.

Third, sticking to green, sustainable development, with the firm belief that green can turn to gold too, we have put greater emphasis on ecological progress and promoted clean production methods in rural areas.

We ensured that China's farmland remains at or above the red line. Presently, the area of land recognized as permanent basic cropland totals 1.55 billion mu (1 mu=0.067 hectare).

We protected the community of life, which consists of mountains, water, forests and farmland ecosystems. Pilot programs were launched to reform crop rotation and fallow land systems. More marginal farmland was turned into forests or grasslands, with 30.10 million mu of marginal farmland transformed from 2014 to 2016, and 12.30 million mu of farmland to be transformed this year.

We also protected natural forests in an all-round way, and tackled agricultural pollution from non-point sources and other prominent problems in the ecological field.

We have entered a new phase of reform on agriculture and the rural area. The future will be even brighter.

That's all I want to share with you. Thank you.

Hu Kaihong:

Thank you, Mr. Han. Now let's move to the question session. Please identify your media outlet before stating your question.


In recent years, people from all walks of life have been concerned about entrepreneurship and the development of new industries in rural areas. Would you please brief us on this and any related measures taken by the government?

Han Jun:

I think people have seen the vigorous development of the new industries of farm-based recreation and agricultural tourism in recent years. A new wave of migrant workers, trade owners and even some college students have started their businesses in rural areas. This trend has only just begun. We believe that, through appropriate guidance, the development of new industries and entrepreneurship can hopefully become deliverables in China's agricultural supply-side structural reform and highlights in the development of the country's rural reform.

What are the reasons behind these? After analysis, we believe there are three major points: first, urban and rural residents have such demands. In the past, the demand of people was to have enough food. Now, they not only demand enough food, but also demand good and safe food. They want to eat safely and enjoy the food. As their income levels and living standards have been improved, they have new demands for the development of agriculture and rural areas.

Second, the rural areas have advantages. Many villages have a very good environment, without PM2.5 pollution, great ecology, the water is clean and the mountain is green. The ecological advantage is more and more obvious. And, there are great folk cultural environments in the countryside. There are distinguishing architectures, unique folk customs, distinct regional cultures and ethnic cultures, and particular lifestyles. I can say the cultural charm in the rural areas is very outstanding. And the values of ecological and cultural advantages are clearly rising fast.

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