A total of 78 million farmers went to China's economically developed areas last year to earn a living, an increase of five percent over the same period of the year 2000.
The figure represents 16.3 percent of China's total rural laborers, said Minister of Agriculture Du Qinglin at a press conference held by the State Council Information Office Monday.
Du said the majority of these migrant farmer workers, mostly young men, came from China's central and western areas, particularly from the economically backward western areas. Some 80percent of them were involved in industrial, construction, food and beverage and service sectors.
In 2001 the per capita net income of Chinese farmers grew by four percent, one percentage point of which could be attributed to the growth of these migrant farm workers' income.
The money earned by the migrant farmer workers has become an important part of farmers' overall income.
Agricultural departments at all levels will strive to increase farmers' income in the future, the minister said.
(Xinhua News Agency February 4, 2002)