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Financial Boost for Education of Farmers
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In a bid to improve the knowledge of farmers in science and technology (S&T) China's Ministry of Agriculture will invest about 1.1 billion yuan (US$137.5 million) next year. The figure is a 53 percent increase over this year's 720 million yuan (US$90 million).


Deputy Agriculture Minister, Wei Chao'an, made the pledge yesterday at the Farmer Scientific Literacy Forum held in Beijing. "From next year the budget will be significantly increased each year," Wei said.


The investment will go towards implementing the National Scheme for Science Literacy (2005-2020) which was announced in February this year. The scheme aims to improve scientific knowledge in China and make it a policy priority.


Wei said the money would be mainly spent in helping farmers develop new technological skills to cope with market fluctuations as well as industrial skills. So far this year 8.6 million farmers had received training and education initiated by the agriculture ministry.


Wei noted, however, that despite continued efforts to improve farmers' S&T skills only 9.1 percent, or about 70 million, have participated in the various training programs.


The programs are also run by other government and non-governmental organizations such as the Ministry of Science and Technology and the China Association for Science and Technology (CAST). The average Chinese farmer only receives 7.3 years of education.


CAST, the Ministry of Agriculture and other government departments, would continue to explore ways to combine scientific education and training to improve agricultural production skills, Deng Nan, CAST first secretary, told the forum.


(China Daily December 20, 2006)

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