More Chinese farmers are leaving their land to get rich and buying computers and mobile phones, according to recent surveys.
A recent official survey by Xinhua said a lot of farmers, mostly from coastal areas, have left the land to become entrepreneurs or employees of local private businesses.
The average annual income of a former farmer was 6,583 yuan (US$780) last year, twice as much as the average earnings of the total rural population.
Most of these rural entrepreneurs earn more than 50,000 yuan (US$6,000) annually, according to the survey.
More than half of the rich farmers surveyed owe their success to continuous hard work. Around a third believe they have grasped good opportunities during the past decade.
The survey also said these farmers were deeply concerned about rural education.
Almost all rich rural families hope their children, whether girls or boys, can go to college. This has become the most important dream of more than half of the surveyed parents.
The survey suggested that governments at different levels and businesses explore further the potential of the education market in the countryside.
Meanwhile, a separate Horizon Research survey carried out at the end of last year said personal computers and mobile phones were among the top four consumer priorities, along with housing and cars.
The Horizon survey, which covered countryside areas of 11 provinces around China, said farmers were also eager to acquire the latest information and follow the latest urban fashions.
Around 16 per cent of rural families in 11 provinces have mobile phones and another 17 per cent plan to buy one within the next two years, said the survey.
Computers and the Internet are also becoming popular in farming areas.
More than half the rural population surveyed said they had heard of the Internet. More than 10 per cent wanted to buy a computer, according to the survey.
(China Daily April 8, 2002)