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

Second, seed enterprises have grown much stronger. Research institutes and universities used to carry out seed breeding research, but now it is mostly enterprises. This change is the result of government incentives being given to enterprises. Meanwhile, we support and encourage enterprises to engage in mergers and restructuring and increase their spending on R&D. Currently, the top 50 seed enterprises spend 7.4 percent of their collective sales revenues on R&D.

Third, seed production and supply capacity have improved remarkably. In the past, seed breeding was quite scattered and farmers kept a portion of the seeds from their own crops for future use. We have set up seed breeding bases where conditions are favorable. There are currently three national bases in Gansu, Sichuan and Hainan respectively.

Fourth, legal oversight has been strengthened. Not long ago, China revised its Seed Law along with nine supporting rules and standardization documents to improve the legislation regulating the industry.

Going forward, we will focus on breeding green, high-quality and cost-effective seeds and increasing the competitiveness of seed enterprises in the international market. It will take time for China's seed industry to grow strong, but it won't be long. Thank you!

China News Service:

Rural land expropriation, collective operational construction land entering the market, and rural residential land pilot reforms have been underway for more than two years, so I would like to ask how the pilot reforms are progressing? How can you protect the rights and interests of farmers in carrying out these reforms? Thank you.

Han Jun:

Rural land expropriation, collective operational construction land entering the market, and rural residential land system reforms are the three key areas of the rural land system that we identified as the "Three Reforms." This reform task was proposed by the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Communist Party of China Central Committee, and is being led by the Ministry of Land and Resources, and also involving the participation of the Central Agricultural Office and the Ministry of Agriculture. The three reforms were planned to be completed by the end of this year, but have now been moved back to the end of 2018. Looking at the reforms occurring in the past two years, the most important thing is that we have recorded a number of institutional achievements with the aim of further improving the rural land system. Land expropriation reform can be said to have entered the actual operational phase. Collective operational land for construction entering the market is now covered by a relatively mature and efficient system of rules, so that the results of reform in this aspect are outstanding.

In regard to rural residential land system reform, people are very concerned about it, and it is a very sensitive issue. It also has achieved very profound progress, and the protection of farmers' residential land property rights and interests has scored remarkable results.

For example, the first deal of the collective operational construction land entering the market, and the first land officially entered into the market transactions occurred in Deqing County, Zhejiang. Last year, while conducting research in Deqing County, we found 49 cases involving nearly 400 mu of land that had entered the market, with the volume of transactions reaching 104 million yuan. Meanwhile collective economic organizations and farmers obtained income of 83.55 million yuan.

Deqing comrades told me they have 1,180 cases involving 10,000 mu of land in 12 townships and 150 administrative villages that can enter the market as collective operational construction land. If all this land were put on the market, can you guess how much money would be involved? About 2.6 billion yuan! Farmers and collective economic organizations would get more than 2 billion yuan in revenue. This reform brings tangible benefits to the farmers. More importantly, when this 10,000 mu enters the market, it provides land support for local rural new industries, as well as for many people to return home to start businesses.

Another example is the system for rural residential land, where reform efforts have paid off. Yujiang County, Jiangxi Province, for instance, has achieved a success in its institutional reform far beyond expectations.

Nearly 40 percent of villagers in the county possessed more than one house site under a single household, which violated the law that one household can only possess one site.

The county has 92,400 house sites among which 23,000 are deserted. How to reclaim these abandoned sites? Within two years, villagers submitted a total of 28,000 house sites covering 3,800 mu (or 253.33 hectares). The retrieved land can sustain housing supply to the entire village for the next 10 to 15 years. Most of the 28,000 house sites were illegally built, and 81 percent of the land was providing no returns.

The difficulty of the work is beyond our imagination. However, after learning from their experiences, we know that highly autonomous governance with an executive board comprising local farmers is the key to addressing the disputes like those about residential land in rural society.

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