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World Bank Helps Train Farmers

China’s Ministry of Agriculture and the World Bank Thursday officially launched a program to establish a new body for training management staff with advanced agricultural knowledge and environmental awareness.

The five-year joint program aims to train more than 30,000 farmers and technicians at grassroots level as well as 1,000 medium and 500 high-level management staff.

It took almost a year for the senior agricultural economists and experts from the World Bank to design all the training courses.

The lecturers are senior experts and officials, who mainly come from the World Bank, the United States and other countries.

An official from the ministry said that it is a crucial task to strengthen environmentally friendly agriculture now that the state’s western development campaign is gathering steam.

“During the last 20 years, we have made great strides in developing agriculture, however, some problems remain,” said Bai Jingming, deputy director of the Department of Science, Technology and Education under the ministry.

“In western regions, the environment is fragile, and to some degrees, agricultural developments have been made at the expense of the environment and natural resources,” Bai said.

He said all farmers should abandon the old way of development and pay more attention to ecological and sustainable development means.

According to Bai, the country has reached an historical turning point in agricultural productivity. During the 1995-2000 period, the country started to produce enough to be self-sufficient and then put out a surplus, but the comparatively slow increase of farmers’ incomes has become a big concern.

“How to balance farmers’ profits and environmental health should be the focus of agricultural development in our western regions,” Bai said.

Officials from the World Bank said the program will enable international experts to exchange ideas with Chinese agricultural experts, officials, technicians and farmers.

“In the 21st century, ecological agriculture and sustainable development rest on the principle that we must meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” said Vicente Ferror, chief economist with the World Bank Institute, a training body under the bank.

(China Daily 05/10/2001)

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