Farmers' Cooperative Economic Organization: A Way Out for China's Agriculture

China is trying to find a suitable method for future agricultural development now that the country is about to enter the World Trade Organization (WTO).

This is vital not only to the development of rural areas, but also to the national economic growth in the new century, according to Chen Zongxing, a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in his capacity as vice-chairman of the Chinese Peasants and Workers Democratic Party.

Chen, who is also deputy governor of Shaanxi Province, told China Internet Information Center reporter that one route should be the establishment of a farmers' cooperative economic organization as soon as possible.

China is a big agricultural country, and the basic role of the primary sector will not change for a long time to come. Once China joins WTO, the greatest challenges will come from foreign produce.

According to Chen, on China's entry into WTO, its existing agricultural organization will face challenges from farmers producing on a large scale, and the cooperative unions and transnational companies to which they are allied, as well as international monopolies of produce-exporting countries.

At present, China hardly has the capability to meet the demands of the international market, let alone resist the competition of overseas agricultural products if it merely relies on existing family operations.

What's more, Chinese agriculture is now facing many problems, such as the widening gap between urban and rural areas and small increases in farmers' income. The contractual household output-related responsibility system has helped a lot in promoting rural reform and solving the food and clothing problems of over 1 billion Chinese. However, with the rapid development of the market economy, the disadvantages of family economy become more and more conspicuous. Because of its small scale, scattered operation and similar production ways, it can no longer meet the demands of the daily changing market.

Besides, the shortage of money, difficulty in promoting technology, disorderly competition and weakness in controlling risks have led to problems in increasing the incomes of farmers and enabling them to sell all their produce.

To meet the demand of agricultural modernization and the challenges of entry into WTO, a totally new operational mode is urgently needed in agriculture, and the farmers' cooperative economic organization will be a good way, said Chen.

The planned organization is actually a union of enterprises, scientific and technological workers and farmers. The enterprises are responsible for market surveys, predictions on the produce categories and quantities demanded by the market, and deep processing and sales of the produce. The scientific and technological workers will be in charge of promoting advanced technologies, including popularization of fine species and advantageous farming technologies and application of bio-engineering and genetic engineering. Although individual farmers remain the basic production unit, membership of the union can help realize the industrialization of agriculture and be of positive significance to increase farm incomes.

Regarding ways to implement the farmers' cooperative economic organization, Chen put forward the following suggestions:

First, the government should give more support and protection to the development of the organization in terms of the proper policies and rules. Also, the organization should be established in a way that is internationally recognized.

Second, in the diversified innovation and standardized development, farmers' wishes must be respected. In the initial stage at least, it must fully abide by the self-choice of farmers and combine closely with actual conditions of each place, thus finding the best way for further development.

Third, education for cooperation will be launched to train experts in this field.

Fourth, while taking into consideration of both diversity and standardization, the development of cooperative economic organization must be guided by government policies.

Chen said the cooperative economic organization should play a supplementary and supportive role in the development of the socialist market economy. It is an important way to promote agricultural industrialization and modernization, and, therefore, supporting the entire rural economic development.

(CIIC by Yang Ling 03/20/2001)

In This Series

New Ideas for Increasing Farmers' Income

Advisor Calls for Launching "Fertile Soil Project"

Agriculture Develops Steadily

Farmers’ Income Top on Guangxi Government Agenda



Web Link