The net cash income per capita of rural residents in China grew 9.2 percent year-on-year after in the first quarter of this year, nearly equal to the 9.8 percent real growth of average disposable personal income of urban residents.
National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) spokesman Zheng Jingping told a press conference that the increase in the first quarter was1.7 percentage points faster than in the same period of last year.
In 2003, the growth rate of farmers' income was 4.3 percent, less than half of the 9 percent growth of urban residents.
Zheng said the faster growth of farmers' incomes in the first quarter was mainly due to higher grain prices, lower taxation and more job opportunities for rural laborers in big cities.
NBS statistics show that farmers' income from sales of farm produce rose 16 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, mainly due to a 7.1 percent hike in food prices.
Zheng said the recent rally of grain prices had obvious effects on the growth of farmers' incomes and helped stimulate grain production.
Farmers earned 12.2 percent more from off-farm jobs in the period, the fastest quarterly growth in several years. Meanwhile, the Chinese government reduced taxation and fees on farmers by 36.3 percent.
Zheng said the Chinese government has attached top priority to increasing farmers' incomes and adopted a series of macro-economic policies and measures in this respect.
NBS figures show that farmers' cash income per capita reached 834 yuan (US$100.5) in the first quarter, as compared with2,639 yuan average income for urban residents.
(Xinhua News Agency April 16, 2004)