China's central government is stepping up fiscal spending on the development of agriculture and rural regions as well as on the improvement of farmers' livelihoods, in efforts to bridge gaps of wealth distribution and urban-rural development in the world's second largest economy.
Xie Xuren, minister of finance, said Sunday that fiscal spending from the central government for agriculture-related projects and farmers are likely to top 1.04 trillion yuan (164 billion U.S. dollars) this year, which represents a 21.3-percent surge compared to the figure last year.
To boost agricultural development, the fiscal expenditures have served the construction of more water-related facilities at farmlands and consolidation of small reservoirs.
The central government has also urged financial institutions to increase lending to agriculture-related businesses through incentive policies, Xie said at a national finance work conference held Sunday in Beijing.
Local governments' finance departments have implemented subsidy programs for farmers who raise live pigs and sought measures to raise farmers' income such as hiking minimum purchase prices for wheat and rice.
Meanwhile, around 227 billion yuan of funds have been appropriated to help impoverished farmers in the rural regions.
In a major move to speed up poverty-relief efforts, the country announced last month a new standard for defining poverty by raising the poverty threshold to 2,300 yuan (362 U.S. dollars) in terms of the annual net income of farmers, up over 80 percent from the 1,274 yuan standard in 2010.
The sharp increase brings China's poverty line closer to the international standard of 1.25 dollars a day, the standard that was established by the World Bank in 2008.