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UPDATED: 14:24, June 25, 2004
Chinese leader on grain production, farmers' income
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Senior Chinese leader Jia Qinglin said during his April 16-20 inspection of north China's Shanxi Province that the government is working hard to boost grain production and raise the income of farmers.

During his talks with farmers and rural officials in the landlocked province, Jia called for efforts to ensure a good harvest for this year.

Jia, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of Chinese Communist Party Central Committee, said it is a central task of the country's agricultural and rural work to raise farmers' income through increasing investment in agriculture, readjusting agricultural structure and creating more jobs for farmers.

The issues concerning agriculture, countryside and farmers have been the priority of the central government, which has issued a number of policies to support agriculture and increase grain production earlier this year, said Jia.

In a move to narrow the widening gap between urban and rural residents, China has announced a package of policies to help farmers and promote the rural economy in the past several months.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao last month announced the decision to rescind agricultural tax in five years, which means farmers' burden would be reduced by as much as 11.8 billion yuan in each of the five years.

From 1997 to 2003, the per capita income of farmers rose 4percent annually on average, in sharp contrast to an 8 percent jump in the disposable income of urban dwellers. Farmers have complained that growing grain crops is less lucrative than growing fruit or raising fish or poultry, which experts fear as a potential threat to the country's food security.

China's cereal output dropped for the fifth consecutive year to431 million tons last year from a record high of 512 million tons in 1998.

During his visit to Taiyuan Iron and Steel Group Co. and other firms, Jia reiterated the importance of sustainable development and coordinating harmonious development between man and mother nature.

He said China should give priority to improving resources efficiency, protecting environment according to law and improving its ecological construction, so that the whole society will take the path of sustainable economic development and rich life in an ecological sound world.

Source: Xinhua

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