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

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Economic Daily: 

In 2018, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council issued the "Strategic Plan for Rural Revitalization," which clarified the overall objectives and priorities involved in rural revitalization. How has the implementation of the strategy progressed? Thank you.

Liu Huanxin:

The implementation of the rural revitalization strategy was an important strategic decision made by the 19th CPC National Congress. The strategy is off to a good start following several years of hard work. Mr. Wei Baigang, chief economist, will answer this question.

Wei Baigang:

Thank you for your interest. The 19th CPC National Congress made a major decision and deployment to implement the rural revitalization strategy, and clearly proposed the general requirements of industrial prosperity, ecological livability, rural civilization, effective governance and rich life. General Secretary Xi Jinping has paid close attention to the promotion of rural revitalization, and made a series of important instructions promoting rural industrial revitalization, talent revitalization, cultural revitalization, ecological revitalization and organizational revitalization. At present, seven aspects and 59 key tasks of the strategic plan are progressing smoothly, and 82 major projects, actions and plans are advancing in an orderly manner. Various regions have carried out demonstration and leading work in rural revitalization, and explored and set a number of good examples such as in improving the living environment, promoting industrial parks, building beautiful villages, and constructing rural civilization. The rural revitalization work gets off to a good start.

First, a mechanism with "Party secretaries at five levels" (provincial Party committees, municipal Party committees, county-level Party committees, township-level Party committees and village-level Party committees) responsible for the work of rural revitalization has been established nationwide. The CPC Central Committee has issued a set of regulations for the country's rural work, specifying the major responsibilities of these five levels of Party secretaries in implementing the strategy for rural revitalization. Leading agencies for the implementation of the strategy have been established in 31 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities), with provincial Party secretaries and governors serving as heads of the leading groups in most regions. A sound evaluation system has also been established in order to better evaluate and supervise performances in carrying out the strategy.

Second, in carrying out the strategy for rural revitalization, we have been following the procedure of "planning followed by implementation" by local governments at different levels. The CPC Central Committee and the State Council have issued a national rural revitalization strategic program, setting out the goals and tasks that shall be completed by 2020. 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities have also made their own plans so as to align their work with the national program and strictly implement every single task stipulated in the program. Township and village governments have been increasing efforts to formulate their own implementation plans, and some villages have combined separate plans into a single program where conditions allow, thereby making the work more feasible. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs has cooperated with some eastern coastal provinces with advanced economies — including Zhejiang, Guangdong, Jiangsu and Shandong - in order to help the eastern coastal areas and other regions where conditions allow achieve basic modernization of agriculture and rural areas. For poverty-stricken areas in central and western China, eliminating poverty is their top priority in implementing the strategy for rural revitalization, and they will win the battle against poverty soon.

Third, the policy framework for rural revitalization has been established. The CPC Central Committee has issued a series of major documents to enhance the rural living environment, revitalize rural industries, strengthen rural governance, improve social etiquette and civility in rural areas, and has created the Chinese farmers' harvest festival. Relevant departments have instituted policies to boost financial services, attract talented personnel, and improve technological services, road building as well as education, amenities, and healthcare services in rural areas. We have also stepped up efforts to establish a mechanism to plan, construct, manage and protect infrastructure in urban and rural areas in a coordinated manner. Moreover, we have been ramping up efforts to ensure that basic public services in urban and rural areas will be provided in accordance with unified standards and systems.

Fourth, a series of landmark projects have been launched. Following the principles of focusing on priorities, addressing inadequacies and shoring up points of weakness, we have launched a set of major projects. These include renovating the rural living environment, constructing high-standard farmland, innovating agricultural technology, creating national-level modern agricultural industrial parks, protecting black-soil farmland in northeast China, and building cold chain logistics facilities for the storage and preservation of agricultural products. These projects have further strengthened the material foundation for the development of agriculture and rural areas.

Going forward, we will follow the deployments and requirements made by the CPC Central Committee, focus on the goals of rural revitalization, and work hard to achieve a good performance in all areas, so as to ensure that decisive progress is made by 2035, with the basic modernization of agriculture and rural areas. By 2050, rural areas should have strong agriculture, a beautiful countryside and well-off farmers. Thank you.  

Hong Kong Commercial Daily:

Technology and equipment are necessary when it comes to the development of modern agriculture. Could you please introduce the progress China has made in the construction of agricultural infrastructure during the 13th Five-Year Plan period? What will the priorities be in the future? Thank you.

Liu Huanxin:

Advanced equipment serves as an essential support in the development of modern agriculture. Improving investment in agricultural infrastructure has always been a priority as stated in "the No. 1 central document" during the 13th Five-Year Plan period. A large number of major projects have been constructed, thereby significantly increasing fixed asset investment in the primary industry. Fixed asset investment in the primary industry between 2016 and September 2020 hit 8.64 trillion yuan, around 1.66 times the level during the 12th Five-Year Plan period. Since 2020, we have been working hard to push local governments to issue special bonds for the development of agriculture and rural areas, so as to overcome the effects of COVID-19 on agricultural and rural investment. A total of 120.2 billion yuan in local government special bonds was issued between January and September, thereby significantly expanding channels for investment and financing. The agricultural infrastructure has witnessed remarkable improvements since the beginning of the 13th Five-Year Plan period. Moreover, technology and equipment have advanced rapidly. The progress can be seen in four aspects:

First, we have significantly scaled up the development of high-standard farmland. By the end of the 13th Five-Year Plan period, we will have completed the construction of 800 million mu (53.3 million hectares) high-standard farmland capable of producing stable, high yields despite drought or flood conditions, and enhanced the disaster resilience and disaster-risk reduction capabilities in agriculture. Grain output will have increased by around 100 kilograms per mu. We have launched a campaign to protect and enhance the soil fertility of cultivated land, and increased efforts to better utilize and conserve black soil in northeast China. We took various measures to combat arable land degradation. In 2019, the average grade of cultivated land across China reached 4.76, up 0.35 from 2014. We also accelerated the construction of efficient water-saving irrigation facilities in rural areas, and the effective utilization coefficient of farmland irrigation water now stands at 0.559.

Second, we have improved our capabilities for breeding superior crop varieties. We established a seed cultivation system featuring three national seed cultivation and production centers in Hainan, Gansu and Sichuan provinces, as well as 52 national seed-producing counties and 100 regional seed cultivation bases. The National Crop Genebank of China (NCGC) is expected to store 1.5 million seed accessions when completed, which will rank the first in the world in terms of conservation abilities. China's modern seed industry has made important breakthroughs, with major crops upgraded and 95% of farmland area planted with domestically cultivated seeds.

Third, the mechanization of agriculture has been developed in an all-round way. The level of mechanization has been rapidly upgraded and the total power of agricultural machinery reached 1.028 billion kilowatts. A total of 453 counties have been built as pilot areas for whole-process mechanization of major crop production. The mechanization of agriculture in hilly and mountainous areas has been accelerated. The overall level of mechanization in plowing, sowing and harvesting exceeded 70%, while the mechanization rate for livestock breeding and aquaculture reached 34% and 30%, respectively. Agricultural mechanization now also covers more areas, including plant protection, straw processing and drying.

Fourth, we have boosted upgrade facilities for livestock and aquatic farming. The construction of livestock housing, automatic feeding, and disease prevention and control facilities has been accelerated. As much as 64.5% of livestock and poultry farming is now carried out on a large scale, and 93% of farms are equipped with manure disposal systems. We have made greater efforts to stimulate the development of the dairy industry. We have supported the upgrade of facilities for dairy farming and built a number of high-quality forage bases. A total of 64% of dairy farming is now carried out on a large scale. We have also promoted the transformation and upgrading of the fishing industry. More than 5,400 national demonstration farms for healthy aquaculture have been established. 

We are currently compiling the 14th Five-Year Plan for agricultural and rural development. We plan to conduct a series of major projects to support the sustainable and strategic development of agriculture, mainly focusing on high-standard farmland, the modern seed industry, cold chain storage and logistics, digital agriculture and rural areas, prevention and control of animal and plant diseases, major scientific infrastructure, as well as other forms of infrastructure. We will increase efforts to improve the level of modern agricultural facilities and equipment. Thank you. 


Many leading pig producers in China have predicted that the price of pork will not return to normal until the second half of 2021. What's your take on that? Thank you. 

Liu Huanxin:

This is a question that is close to our daily lives and people's livelihoods. In recent years, people have paid close attention to this. I would like to invite Mr. Wei to answer this question.

Wei Baigang:

Thank you for your question. I have spoken about pig production resumption and pork prices several times. The change in prices is dependent on supply and demand. Since the beginning of this year, local governments have fully implemented the polices made by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council to support the production of hogs. We support pig farms to boost production and increase efforts to prevent and control the African swine fever. In the first three quarters of this year, 12,500 new large-scale pig farms were built and put into production, and 13,400 empty pig farms re-stocked. By the end of September, pig stocks have reached 370 million, or 84% of the level at the end of 2017, while there were 38.22 million breeding sows, or 86% of the level of end-2017.

As hog production has resumed, more hogs have been slaughtered for market. As a result, pork prices have declined for eight consecutive weeks. At present, the price of pork in wholesale markets is 49.23 yuan per kilogram, a decrease of 10.41 yuan compared to its high in February. The downward trend is obvious.

Looking to the future, the supply of pork is improving. According to recent expert research, when taking factors such as the resumption of hog production, pork imports and consumption demand into consideration, the supply of pork during the two future major holidays of the New Year's Day and Spring Festival will increase by around 30%. Generally, the price will be lower than the same period last year, and there will be no significant rise in prices. As the number of breeding sows and pig stocks increase, the supply will also quickly follow. When the supply goes up, prices will gradually return to normal. Thank you.

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