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Subsidies Help Farmers Improve Efficiency
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Central and provincial government subsidies helped Chinese farmers from 1,126 counties purchase 300,000 farm machines in 2006, said Xue Liang, a spokesman with the Ministry of Agriculture.

The central government expanded its farm machinery subsidies from 70 million yuan (US$8.97 million) in 2004 to 600 million yuan in 2006, said Xue.

With 70 percent of the Chinese provinces increasing their investment in the subsidies, their contributions added another 1.1 billion yuan to the subsidies last year, up 33 percent from the previous year.

The subsidies have helped farmers reduce their farming cost, raise their income and improve farming efficiency, Xue added.

Last year the subsidy was extended to farmers in 1,126 counties across the country, up from 66 large grain-producing counties in 16 provinces in 2004.

The subsidies have also spurred sales of farm machines for three straight years as China's major machinery manufacturers saw their total output rise 25 percent to 130 billion yuan last year.

By the end of last year, China had 1.6 million tractors, up 14 percent year on year. The number of combine harvesters rose 15 percent to 550,000 units, while the number of rice planters surged 38 percent to 110,000 units.

(Xinhua News Agency May 8, 2007)

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