Farmers’ Income Top on Guangxi Government Agenda

Over the past few years, farmers in Guangxi and other parts of China have seen their income increase relatively slowly. In the 10th Five-Year Plan period (2001-05), the government of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region will carry out various means to improve the livelihood of farmers.

Lin Can, director of the Agriculture Department, made these remarks during an interview with the China Internet Information Center, while attending the ongoing session of the Ninth National People’s Congress (NPC).

Lin said the local government had always shown great concern towards agricultural development and it was inspiring that Premier Zhu Rongji had placed the sector in a primary position in his work report delivered on Monday.

From 1997 through 2000, farmers’ income in Guangxi saw an average annual increase of 4.7 percent, a fall from past levels.

According to Lin, this is partly because of agricultural produce price cuts, increased difficulty in moving surplus farm labor to other economic sectors, a poor agricultural industrialization level and irrational agricultural structure, and the heavy financial burden facing farmers.

Yet, Lin added that he strongly believed Guangxi would see progress in this area in future as long as central government supported agriculture, and because the local government would adopt a series of measures in its five-year plan to provide strong incentives and the right environment for local farmers.

He believed that agriculture development with local characteristics would be promoted to better exploit local natural conditions with a favorable climate and natural flora and fauna resources. For example, it will plant more subtropical and tropical fruit and vegetables, especially sugarcane. In addition, output per hectare is to be upgraded, relying on scientific and technological measures.

Lin said that, in the past year, science and technology had contributed just 38 percent to local economic development, compared to 70 to 80 percent in developed countries. Guangxi will popularize science and technology knowledge and better train farmers to increase their output and develop diversified economy

Economic structural readjustment was also imperative; regional coordination must be stressed, and the urbanization drive should be stepped up, all of which would provide better ways to channel surplus labor into the second and tertiary industries, he said.

There will also be strong emphasis on agricultural industrialization and standardization, which are now in the initial stage in Guangxi. To optimize and upgrade the sector, it is crucial to ensure that farmers are well informed of market trends for their production. And a well-circulated market system should be established to help farmers sell their produce at a competitive price, Lin said.

To relieve the burden of farmers and stimulate their production initiative, Guangxi will launch tax-for-fee reform starting from this year.

More infrastructure facilities will also be constructed, including water conservancy projects, high-yielding paddies, and the upgrading of agricultural information.

Urbanization construction will continue its fast development to attract surplus labor from the countryside.

(CIIC by Guo Xiaohong 03/07/2001)