Advanced Technology to Ease Poverty

Scientists have been called on to contribute more to nationwide poverty-relief campaigns over the next few years by introducing advanced technologies into poor areas.

Focusing on environmental conservation, effort should concentrate on teaching farmers how to develop resource-oriented industries, said Vice-Minister of Science and Technology Li Xueyong at a conference on aiding the poor through technology, which opened yesterday in Beijing.

Research institutes will be mobilized to introduce at least 1,000 advanced farming techniques to China's poor and rural areas starting from next year, said Li.

The Ministry of Science and Technology, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Association for Science and Technology have decided to popularize such techniques as ground sheeting for maize and wheat, water and soil conservation, the cultivation of high-yield crops and the processing of fruits and vegetables.

The three scientific departments launched poverty-relief projects in 1986. Since then, the ministry has been responsible for the Dabie Mountain area in Anhui and Hubei provinces, the Jinggang Mountain area in Jiangxi Province, and the north of Shaanxi Province. The academy has been responsible for the Loess Plateau and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and the association has been responsible for the Luliang Mountains area in Shanxi Province.

Their efforts over the past 15 years have paid off, said Li.

In the north of Shaanxi Province, the Dabie Mountain and the Jinggang Mountain areas, for example, the number of people suffering from poverty has been reduced to 500,000 from the 9.4 million of 1986, the ministry's statistics indicate.

A total of 290,000 scientists and technicians have been sent to poor areas over the past 15 years. They have introduced 9,400 kinds of applied technologies to thousands of farmers, the statistics show.

Each farmer has learnt two advanced agricultural techniques and increased his income. In the Luliang Mountain area, for example, farmers' incomes have been increased to an average of 1,367 yuan (US$165) from the previous 318 yuan (US$38) per year, according to Zhang Yutai, a senior official of the Chinese Association for Science and Technology.

(China Daily 12/18/2000)

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