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China to raise grain purchase prices by 13%
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The Chinese government is to raise the average minimum procurement price for all grain products by 13 percent from last year, as policy makers try to mitigate the impact of the global economic crisis on rural farmers.

That would generate more than 116 billion yuan (17 billion U.S. dollars) of cash income for the country's 700 million farmers, the equivalent of 500 yuan for each of the rural households, according to a China Daily report Thursday.

The country's grain output hit a record high of 528.5 million metric tonnes last year, but the recent drought in many provinces has lowered expectations this year.

Combined with the impact of the financial crisis that had left almost 20 million rural migrant workers jobless, farmers' incomes would suffer "a sizable loss" if they are not provided access to other income sources, Song Hongyuan, a senior researcher at the Ministry of Agriculture, told the paper.

Rural cash income had risen more than 6 percent annually in the last five years, but much of the increase had come from migrant workers' remittances, which had been threatened due to sweeping job cuts in cities, Song said.

Premier Wen Jiabao also pledged Thursday to add another 120 billion yuan to boost the country's agriculture while addressing nearly 3,000 lawmakers at the Second Session of the 11th National People's Congress.

(Xinhua News Agency March 5, 2009)

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