SCIO briefing on the development of agriculture and rural areas in 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020)

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Farmers' Daily:

The public is concerned about progress in toilet renovation and the disposal of wastewater and garbage. What progress has been made in the Three-Year Action Plan for Improving the Rural Living Environment? And what achievements have been made? Thank you.

Liu Huanxin: 

Let's give the floor to Mr. Wu Hongyao, a member of the CPC Leading Group of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, to take that question.

Wu Hongyao:

Thank you. Let me answer the question. Both the CPC Central Committee and the public have attached great importance to improving the rural living environment. At the beginning of 2018, the General Office of the CPC Central Committee and the General Office of the State Council issued the Three-Year Action Plan for Improving Rural Living Environment. The Office of the Central Rural Work Leading Group and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, in collaboration with relevant authorities, have actively played a leading role in making solid progress in implementing the Three-Year Action Plan by learning from Zhejiang's experience in village renovations in accordance with the policies and plans of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council. Renovation work is now underway nationwide, with major progress being made. The goals and tasks set in the plan have mostly been completed.

First, most villages have become clean and tidy. At the end of 2018, 18 departments, including the Office of the Central Rural Work Leading Group and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, launched a village cleaning campaign. A series of activities were organized to encourage farmers to take spontaneous action in cleaning up rural household garbage, village ponds and ditches, as well as agricultural waste such as manure from livestock and poultry breeding. Farmers were further encouraged to change bad habits that adversely affect the rural living environment. Strict and coordinated measures have been taken against the problem of dirtiness and untidiness in villages. More than 95% of villages have taken part in cleaning-up activities, and the appearance of these villages has been significantly improved.

Second, we have made solid progress in the rural toilet revolution. We have always tailored our measures to local conditions when implementing policies and have given priority to quality. We have guided local authorities to prioritize the promotion of toilet renovation in Class-I counties, while steadily promoting the work in Class-II counties and launching trials of the work in Class-III counties by issuing policy documents, holding deployment meetings, enhancing technical support, carrying out supervision and inspection, and promoting publicity and training. We urged the local authorities to improve the quality and effectiveness of rural toilet innovation and ensured that the public is satisfied with the work. Currently, more than 65% of rural areas are equipped with sanitary toilets. Since 2018, more than 30 million rural toilets have been renovated. 

Third, we have made coordinated efforts in promoting the treatment of rural household garbage and sewage. We have actively cooperated with relevant departments to strengthen rural household garbage and sewage treatment and improve the construction, management and protection mechanisms. At present, the system of rural household garbage collection, transportation and disposal has covered more than 90% of the country's administrative villages. A total of 99% of the 24,000 unqualified garbage sites identified nationwide have been cleaned up, and the rural sewage treatment has been improved.

Next, we will improve the rural living environment as required in the 14th Five-Year Plan on the basis of summarizing the effects of implementing the Three-Year Action Plan. We will continue to improve the rural living environment in order to give farmers a greater sense of gain and happiness. Thank you.

The Cover: 

Corn prices have been rising rapidly since the beginning of this year. We have noted that the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs explained that one of the reasons for the high price is the strong demand and reluctance of farmers to sell. What measures are the ministry taking to deal with this issue? Thank you.

Wei Baigang: 

Thank you for your interest. As you said, the price of corn has risen recently and people have been paying close attention to the corn market. We responded to this issue at the press conference held by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs several days ago.

Since the beginning of this year, the price of corn did go up. In September, with new corn from the north and northeast of China coming into the market, prices began to fall. After the National Day holiday, the price then rose again. As far as we know, the listed purchase price of corn in some parts of Jilin province is around 2.34 yuan per kilogram, and that of some regions in Heilongjiang province is around 2.2 yuan per kilogram. According to our analysis, there are three reasons for this price rise. 

First, demand is strong. As the production of pigs is recovering and speeding up, the demand for corn for feed has increased. At the same time, the demand for alcohol and related products, including corn starch, is also increasing. The price has increased because processing enterprises and traders are generally optimistic about the corn market.

Second, costs have increased and farmers are reluctant to sell. This year, the impact of typhoons on the corn yield in northeast China has been limited, but corn stalk lodging occurred in some areas, resulting in higher costs for harvesting. Our research shows that the cost of harvesting lodged corn by machine is around 100 yuan higher per mu than during normal years. Farmers say that each extra ear of corn can earn them 40-50 cents more. After harvesting, they have tended to wait a few days when having seen that prices were rising.

Third, capital speculation. Affected by the global pandemic, domestic and foreign investment markets have shown greater interest in the grain market. Since October, international and domestic corn futures prices have risen significantly, and traders and processing enterprises are expected to increase bullish expectations, leading to a rise in spot prices. Corn prices are set to stabilize in the near future.

We believe that this round of corn price hike is a restorative rise following on from the reform of the collection and storage system, which is mainly the result of market effects. In the future, the decisive role of the market in the allocation of resources will still be brought into play. We will also work with relevant departments to ensure the corn supply and endeavor to increase grain production and supply. At present, the corn harvest is 90% complete, and a bumper harvest is in sight. The next step is to guide all regions in harvesting and drying work, so as to ensure that the harvest of autumn grains is plentiful and can be sold as soon as possible. Relevant departments will strengthen their supervision of corn warehouse auctions in the early stage, and urge buyers and sellers to timely get goods available on the market as soon as possible. At present, stocks of rice and wheat are sufficient, while some can be auctioned for feed. In short, the corn supply will gradually increase in the later period, and there is no support for corn prices to continue rising. Thank you.

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