China kicked off an annual rural work conference on Saturday to map out the country's strategies and policies for agricultural and rural development in 2008.
China's rural development will continue to be one of the areas that top the government's agenda in the coming year, as stressed at the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) concluded in October.
A recent CPC meeting urged continuing to modernize the agricultural sector to close the gap between urban areas and relatively underdeveloped rural regions in the coming year.
The meeting called on to boost infrastructure constructions in rural areas, promote the steady development of agriculture, increase the income of farmers, ensure the basic supply of farm produce and improve the livelihood of rural population.
It asked to establish a long-term mechanism for boosting the agriculture sector, continue to increase government investment in agriculture, give more support to the agricultural sector and boost grain production in 2008.
Experts believed balancing inflation curbs and steady price hikes of farm produce for the good of farmers would be a key challenge for the Chinese government next year.
Farm produce such as grain, meat and cooking oil, were major factors behind this year's soaring inflation.
The Chinese government had pledged to modernize the agricultural industry and invest more money in the country's vast rural areas at the annual conference last year.
The Party and government had annually devoted its first work document to rural development four times since 2004 to draw up a variety of preferential policies to support the rural sector. The move indicated that rural development was a top concern of the central government.
This year's rural work conference is scheduled to last two days.
Backgrounder: Challenges in China's rural development
(Xinhua News Agency December 22, 2007)