National People's Congress
Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference
Deputies in Brief
Meeting Agenda
The Ninth National People's Congress begined from March 5, 2002.
The CPPCC begined at the Great Hall of the People from March 3, 2002.
Premier Highlights Rural Work
Premier Zhu Rongji highlighted the importance of "accelerating the development of agriculture and the rural economy and increasing the incomes of farmers," in the Report on the Work of the Government delivered at the opening of the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC) Tuesday.

Developing the agricultural productive forces and raising farmers' purchasing power are an important aspect of the effort to stimulate domestic demand, and have a bearing on overall national economic development and social stability, the premier said, adding that strengthening agriculture and increasing farmers' incomes should be taken as a major task in the economic work.

Increase in farmers' incomes and reduction in their burdens will be an important criterion for judging the agricultural and rural work, he stressed.

In the final analysis, to increase farmers' incomes it is necessary to accelerate agricultural and rural economic restructuring, vigorously develop industrial management of agriculture and promote the modernization of traditional agriculture, he said.

Zhu said that the government will make great efforts to extend the use of improved crop strains and advanced technology, accelerate the development of high quality, special-purpose and pollution-free agricultural products. Agricultural restructuring will continue, and animal husbandry and aquaculture will be developed vigorously, he noted.

According to the premier, the patterns of agricultural production will be adjusted and optimized in the light of regional advantages.

Coastal regions and suburbs of large and medium-sized cities should energetically develop high-efficiency agriculture. The main grain producers in the central region should take advantage of the fact that the main grain purchasers have given up a certain part of the grain market and increase the production of high quality grain, increase the overall benefits deriving from grain production and become more competitive on the market.

The western region needs to expand the production of agricultural products with distinct local characteristics and develop drought-resistant and environmentally friendly agriculture. The export of farm produce needs to be expanded.

China will promote joint operations between farmers and companies and encourage farmers to grow crops on a contract basis so as to gradually integrate the production, processing and marketing of agricultural products, according to the premier.

The government will step up the development of a number of leading enterprises that can give strong impetus to agricultural production in a large area, and deepen the reform of the system of agricultural scientific research and dissemination of agricultural technology.

Producers, research institutes and schools are encouraged to work together, he said, stressing that the government will continue to implement the Spark Program to speed up the translation of scientific and technological achievements in agriculture into productive forces and spread the use of these achievements.

In carrying out agricultural restructuring, it is a must to follow market demand, proceed from realities, and respect farmers' wishes, and on no account must coercion and commandism be allowed, he said. In order to create a favorable market environment, governments at all levels must work out feasible plans, increase scientific and technological input in agriculture, improve their services, and improve the quality standard and certification system, the inspection and testing system, and the market information system for agricultural products, he noted.

According to the premier, the following must be done to increase farmers' incomes considerably as fast as possible:

First, more farmland will be returned to forests. The achievements over the past two years have proved that returning arable land to forests (or pastures and lakes) in the central and western regions is both an important measure for improving the ecological environment and promoting agricultural restructuring and an effective way of directly increasing farmers' incomes.

With ample supplies of grain and other agricultural products, the government is currently in a good position to accelerate the return of farmland to forests. More land will be restored to forests this year than before, and rest grazing will be promoted.

China will quicken the pace of planting trees on barren hills and uncultivated land wherever possible. Guidance should be tailored to individual local conditions.

It is essential to conscientiously implement all the policies for returning farmland to forests and improve supporting measures. No time should be lost in breeding and supplying improved seedlings and the quality of the work of returning farmland to forests should be guaranteed.

In returning farmland to forests and protecting natural forests, attention should be paid to the development of replacement industries so as to guarantee long-term sources of income for the local people and the financial revenues of the relevant localities. Laws and regulations on returning farmland to forests should be formulated without delay.

Second, the reform of rural taxes and administrative charges and the reform of the grain and cotton distribution systems will be deepened. The reform of rural taxes and administrative charges is a fundamental way of reducing the burden on farmers.

This year the scope of reform experiments will be extended, mainly in the major grain producing and agricultural provinces in the central region. Reform experiments will also continue in some selected counties and cities in other provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government.

The central financial authorities will have a budget supporting these reforms, and the financial departments of the areas concerned should also set aside appropriate funds to support them. At the same time, related reforms of township and town institutions, rural education, and county and township financial systems will be carried out.

The reform of rural taxes and administrative charges is designed both to lighten the burden on farmers significantly and to ensure the funds needed by townships and villages to work and develop normally, especially the funds for compulsory education in rural areas.

Rural areas that have not yet begun reforming their taxes and administrative charges should strictly follow the relevant regulations of the central government in continuing to reduce the burden on farmers.

All localities should make more efforts to regulate unauthorized charges in education, electricity and housing construction in rural areas. Measures for deepening the reform of the grain distribution system have to be implemented in full. Great efforts need to be made to further the reform of state-owned grain trading enterprises. Management of the grain market needs to be improved and strengthened. Main grain producers and purchasers are encouraged to establish long-term stable cooperative relations.

The government will continue to do a good job in every aspect of the market-oriented reform of cotton marketing to keep cotton production and the cotton market stable, he said.

Third, efforts will be made to increase sources of income for farmers. The government will speed up the development of rural secondary and tertiary industries, especially farm produce processing and rural services.

The government will guide rural enterprises to accelerate their restructuring, technological progress and operational system renovation in order to reach a higher level of development. Expanded economic exchanges between towns and rural areas can significantly increase farmers' incomes.

Local governments should abolish unreasonable restrictions, cancel improper charges and improve their services in order to make it easier for farmers to migrate to cities for work or business and to guarantee their legitimate rights and interests.

At the same time, supervision and guidance of this work should be strengthened. Urbanization should proceed in a positive and sound manner.

Fourth, greater efforts will be made to support agriculture. The government will adopt measures that conform to the WTO rules and effectively safeguard the interests of Chinese farmers.

The government will increase investment in agriculture and rural infrastructure to improve production and living conditions in the countryside and the ecological environment there.

Emphasis should be placed on support for projects of water- conserving irrigation, drinking water, production and use of marsh gas, hydroelectric power generation, rural road building, and grazing land fencing.

Support for agriculture should be strengthened in the fields of agroscientific research, dissemination of agricultural techniques, prevention and control of plant diseases, pest control, information consulting and farmer training. Financial service for agriculture will be improved.

Further efforts will be made in poverty alleviation and development in rural areas, increasing funding from various sources to aid the poor, and expanding programs that provide jobs for people as an alternative to relief.

More efforts should be made to aid disaster-stricken and destitute areas through reduction and exemption of agricultural or stock breeding taxes, and this policy should be carried out to the letter. Positive efforts should be made to help families living below the poverty line and families designated for special assistance resolve their practical difficulties.

(Xinhua News Agency March 5, 2002)

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