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President Reiterates Crucial Bearing of Grain Production

President Hu Jintao recently urged all local governments and Party committees to carry out fully the central policies of raising grain production and farmers' incomes, hoping to stabilize the fundamental status of agriculture in China's economy.

Hu said he was pleased to see the farmers' enthusiasm for growing grain on the rise, and reiterated the importance of grain farming during an inspection tour through the northwestern province of Shaanxi from April 9 to 13.

Touching the public with a "people first" principle, Hu's government has developed a set of policies favoring its 900 million rural people, including controlling grain purchasing prices, subsidizing grain producers directly, stepping up supervision over surging agricultural production costs and cutting down on agricultural taxes.

The central government has pledged 10 billion yuan (US$1.2 billion) from its grain risk fund to subsidize grain producers directly this year.

From 1997 to 2003, the per capita income of farmers rose 4 percent annually on average, in sharp contrast to an 8 percent jump in the disposable income of urban dwellers. Farmers have complained that planting grain crops is less lucrative than growing fruit, fish or poultry, which experts fear is a potential threat to the country's food security.

While checking the implementation of the new policies, Hu also noted the support of scientific technologies for China's agriculture.

"Government policies and reforms can revive farmers' motivation. But we still need the progress of scientific technologies to bring agriculture a long-term bright future, which means traditional farming must be transformed into modern agriculture," Hu said.

The president reassured the local people of the government's determination to promote the development of western China. He said the strategy would combine the development of scientific technologies, profitability, low energy consumption, environmental protection and optimization of human resources.

"It is important for the western region to retain its local talents, offer various types of professional training and attract more experts from outside."

He reminded those who live in the western region that they must place more value on the environment, building healthy industrial structures and forming consumption habits that are environmentally friendly and resource-efficient. This is part of the government's new scientific concept of development, which coordinates social and economic growth with harmonious development of man and nature.

(People's Daily April 14, 2004)

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