Per capita net income for farmers in eastern China's Zhejiang Province is expected to reach 8,100 yuan (1,118 U.S. dollars) for 2007, an average annual increase of 10.4 percent in the past five years.
Speaking at a local rural work conference in Hangzhou on Monday, Cheng Weishan, director of the provincial agriculture department, said Zhejiang was not an arable-land-rich province but its farmers' income had been outstanding in the country.
"Most of them make a living in non-agricultural fields. They put down the agriculture tools and set up township enterprises after the country introduced the reform and opening up to the outside world policy in the late 1970s," he said.
"At present, one out of 26 Zhejiang people is running his or her own private enterprise," said Cheng.
Zhejiang is by no means an isolated case in which farmers benefit from township enterprises.
China's Minister of Agriculture Sun Zhengcai said last month in a report to the country's top legislature that per capita net income for the 900 million rural residents was expected to surge by 7 percent to stand at 4,000 yuan in 2007.
In the southern Guangdong Province, per capita net income for farmers was estimated to climb to 5,450 yuan last year.
"Our strategy focused on developing leading township enterprises and specialized cooperative economic organizations," said Huang Longyun, Guangdong executive vice governor at a local rural work conference held on Jan. 10.
"In 2007, the 139 leading township enterprises posted sales revenue of 49 billion yuan, pushing up the income of 1.8 million households by 3,340 yuan," Huang said.
Rising wages is another major contributor to the farmer's income growth.
In the coastal city of Dalian in Liaoning Province, per capita income of farmers reached 8,369 yuan (1,155 U.S. dollars), with an average wage income of 3,295 yuan, accounting for 39.4 percent of the total.
China's 200 million migrant workers across the country also added to the growth as about 120 million traveled from rural areas to big cities to seek employment.
The average monthly income of migrant workers reached 1,200 yuan in 2007, an increase of 200 yuan year-on-year, according to a report released by the Shanghai-based Fudan University on Friday.
Farmer’s income also experienced significant growth in Jiangsu, Hainan, Heilongjiang and some other provinces. Surges in grain, pork and cooking oil prices last year should also help raise the agriculture revenue.
But experts warned the country's rich-poor, urban-rural divide was widening.
Last year, the income growth of rural residents fell short of that in the cities by nearly five percentage points, the Chinese Academy of Social Science said in its 2008 Society Bluebook report.
"The continuous rise of productive materials had driven the increasing production costs of agriculture, thus shrinking the comparative profit of farmers. It is still our major task to raise farmers' income in 2008," Agriculture Minister Sun said.
(Xinhua News Agency January 16, 2008)