While most Chinese consumers, particularly in urban areas, are
relieved at the government's decision to freeze prices on key
household commodities, some of the country's farmers are arguing
their interests might be ignored.
The government on Wednesday moved to restrict price hikes of
daily goods, such as grain, edible oil, meat, milk, eggs and
liquefied petroleum gas, in an effort to bring rising inflation
Xu Shaohua, a rice farmer from the Dongting Lake area, a key
grain production base in central China's Hunan Province, hopes that
additional measures should be taken to satisfy people who live in
"Prices of pesticides and chemical fertilizers have continued to
soar, but the price of rice has not undergone big hikes in recent
years," Xu complained.
"Rice in 2007 only fetched 80 yuan or so per 50 kg on the
market, I don't have much left after labor costs are deducted," he
"It is simply unrealistic to rely on ploughing the fields and
Like many other rural families, Xu Shaohua and his wife, take
care of their grandson, who helps farm their land. Their son and
daughter-in-law have left to work in the city.
When the workload on the farm increases, the elderly couple have
to hire several hands to help them out. But the cost of hiring a
laborer has gone up from 20 yuan a day three years ago to 60 yuan,
while the price for a bag of urea is now 104 yuan from 74 yuan in
The rich-poor gap is enlarging between cities and villages in
the country with 900 million farmers, or 3/4 of the total
Chen Wensheng, deputy head of the New Countryside Research
Center with Hunan Provincial Academy of Social Sciences, believes
the government should leave the price of goods to market
"Rises in farm produce reflect the law of the market, which will
in turn help compensate farmers," said Chen Wensheng, deputy head
of the New Countryside Research Center with the Hunan Provincial
Academy of Social Sciences.
"Without question, it is a key challenge for the Chinese
government to balance inflation curbs and steady price increases of
produce for the good of farmers," said Chen.
Some experts hope the farmers' worries would be eased as the
government move to adopt more methods to overcome the
"The Chinese government will strive to bring the price hikes
under control ... by expanding (farm) production for steady
supply," said Gao Hongbin, vice minister of agriculture, at a
recent press conference.
The central government has pledged to enhance rural
infrastructure construction, promote stable development of
agriculture and facilitate a sustained income growth for farmers in
The pledge should be carried out and a certain period of time
thereafter in accordance with the requirement of realizing
integration of urban and rural economic and social development,
according to a rural work conference.
Efforts should be exerted to ensure supply of major agricultural
products, settle problems concerning people's livelihood in rural
areas and push forward the "new countryside" scheme.
Polices benefiting farmers should be improved and investment in
agriculture and rural areas should be increased substantially.
Basic supply of major agricultural products should be
guaranteed, and farmers' income should be increased, according to
(Xinhua News Agency January 19, 2008)