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Compensation Standards Improved for Farmland

Compensation for farmers pushed off their land should increase by the end of the year, a development expected to ease conflicts between rural communities and developers.

According to an announcement by the Ministry of Land and Resources made public on Friday, local governments are required to speed up the establishment of systems used to work out land values when requisitioning farmers' land.

"The move is an attempt to solve the lingering problems of farmers whose land was always inadequately or randomly compensated in the past," said a ministry official who preferred not to be identified.

As the economic development level of different regions is uneven, the systems for establishing land acquisition payments should vary across the country, said the official.

The types and quality of arable land, farmers' input, as well the prices of primary products are to be taken into account when deciding the value of average annual output, said the announcement. The compensation sum should also give consideration to the local economic situation, people's living standards and other social security demands, it said.

In calculating the comprehensive prices of farmland, the categories and rates of arable land, its production value, as well as demand and supply should be given full consideration, according to the document.

"As soon as the standards have been publicized, they must be strictly implemented," said the official.

The planned adjustment of compensation standards is a vast improvement, said Liu Shouying, a researcher with the Development Research Center under the State Council, adding that the government should set a basic level of payment.

"The nation should set up a minimum standard of compensation in order to guarantee the basic interests of the farmers," he suggested.

Compensation for farmland requisitioned by the State for major construction projects should also be increased, Liu suggested.

By the end of last year, at least 40 million farmers had lost land to real estate development, industrial zones and other uses, according to a Xinhua report.

The current compensation standards, based on a guideline issued by the Ministry of Land and Resources last November, promised to pay farmers at most 30 times the worth of the average annual output of the arable land over the previous three years, experts said. Complaints, even bloody conflicts, have been frequently reported after farmers were inadequately compensated or lacked subsistence after their land was taken from them.

(China Daily August 13, 2005)

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