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Agriculture: Foundation stone of Chinese economy
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10:56, September 21, 2009

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· 60th Anniversary of Founding of PRC
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Over the 60 years since the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, the development of China's agriculture and rural areas have experienced historic leaps, featuring steady increase in rural residents' incomes, perfection of rural systems and mechanisms, and notable improvement of the look of rural areas.

This year is another year of great achievements for Chinese agriculture. With the government's favorable agricultural policies, we have successfully resisted the impact of global financial crisis, combated the natural disasters, and realized a growth of summer crops for the sixth consecutive year. Meanwhile, all departments of agriculture are developing in a balanced way and rural residents' incomes have seen another increase.

Agriculture is the foundation stone of a nation. China's sound agriculture and stable rural areas have laid a solid foundation for ensuring the economic growth, people's livelihood and social stability. These achievements add great brilliance to the sixtieth anniversary of the founding of People's Republic of China.

Golden time of development

The development of "agriculture, countryside and farmer" enters a golden time. It has realized six historic leaps over the sixty years.

Minister of Agriculture Sun Zhengcai said China's agriculture and countryside is in one of the best historic times of development. Over the sixty years, it has realized six historic leaps:

- The supply of agricultural commodities is continuously improving, having changed from long-term shortage to general balance and surplus in harvest years. Now the supply is abundant for Chinese citizens.

- The comprehensive productivity has been enhanced dramatically. China's agricultural production has been enhanced from the extensive mode to a new level with intensification keeping enhancing. Comprehensive mechanization of plowing, sowing and raising crops reaches 48%. And the crop yield rises from 0.10 kilogram per square meter in 1949 to current 0.49 kilogram per square meter.

- The rural economic structure keeps optimizing. It has changed from domination of the primary industry to a coordinated development of thrice industries. Agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry and fishery are enjoying common development. The thrice industries in rural areas are developing in a coordinated way.

- Rural residents' incomes are increasing steadily. Chinese peasants have changed from having barely adequate food and clothing to enjoying a comfortable level of living. Rural residents' net annual income per capita grew from 44 RMB in 1949 to 4761 in 2008. The rural population in poverty decreased from 250 million in 1978 to 14.79 million in 2007.

- Rural systems and mechanisms are improving. The economic system has changed from self-subsistence peasant economy to socialist market economy. Peasants' activity gets fully stimulated and the rural productivity is greatly released and developed.

- The countryside has assumed a new look. The dual structure between city and countryside has been changed in the direction of integration, which is a historic leap.

Precious experience

Over the past sixty years, great changes have taken place in China, but we remain a large agricultural country. Looking back at the past practice of reform and development in the countryside, which experience should we remember?

Sun said, first of all, we should keep regarding "agriculture, countryside and farmer" as a fundamental cause in our revolution, construction and reform. In all the past historical periods, the CPC has always attached great importance to this cause.

Second, we should keep strengthening the fundamental role of agriculture. It is always the first task for such a populous country as China to solve the problem of feeding its more than a billion citizens. It decides the development and stability of our nation.

Third, keep safeguarding the material interests and democratic rights of farmers. China's practice shows that only if we stick to the principle of people foremost and safeguard the material interests and democratic rights of peasants, can Chinese peasants' activity be fully stimulated and can the development of agriculture and rural areas make great achievements.

Fourth, keep pushing forward the reform and opening up, adjusting improper system and mechanisms.

Fifth, stick to the road of agricultural modernization with Chinese features.

New phase for modernization

China's grain yield has kept above 500 billion kilograms in consecutive years. At the current new period of development, what efforts and breakthroughs do we still need to make to go along the path of agricultural modernization with Chinese features?

Sun said although our agriculture and rural economy have made great achievements in the past 60 years, we should keep a clear mind: our agricultural foundation is still quite weak and needs strengthening; our rural development is still lagging and needs supporting; increase of farmers' incomes is still difficult and needs promoting; the imbalance of development between city and countryside is still severe and needs coordinating. It is still a primary task to solve the problem of feeding our large population.

To deal with these challenges, the key is we should unswervingly take the road of modern agriculture with Chinese features. According to the requirement of coordinating urban and rural development, we should plan industrialization, urbanization and agricultural modernization as a whole and solve the problems including agricultural modernization and farmers' employment and income increase well during the process.

First of all, we should establish and improve the industry technology system of modern agriculture. We should take full account of our agriculture's distinctive features and our specific national conditions, accelerate the innovation of system and mechanism, and promote agricultural science and technology innovation, popularization and talent training, exploring a pragmatic and efficient model of agricultural science and technology.

Second, establish and improve the engineering system of modern agriculture. We should focus on areas including farmland fundamental facilities, planting and breeding industry production base, agricultural product processing, storage and circulation, and public service of modern agriculture. We should take engineering measures to strengthen agricultural fundamental facilities and equipment construction, promote the ability to resist natural risks and steadily enhance the comprehensive capacity of agricultural production.

Third, establish and improve the policy system of modern agriculture. China has preliminarily established a framework of policies favorable to farmers. But these policies still need to be improved in terms of agricultural investment, subsidies, protective prices, compensation for environment and insurance.

Besides, we should also establish and improve a series of modern agricultural systems including policy system, talent supporting system and market system.

The blueprint is very encouraging.

Sun ended the interview with an unforgettable memory.

It was March 26, 2007 when he went for a survey in Ruijin, Jiangxi Province. While visiting the site of Central Government of Chinese Soviet Republic (November 7, 1931 to September 6, 1937, founded by Communist Party of China during the war), the administrator gave him two copies of loan receipts the central government wrote to villagers, one for 50kg of grains and the other 25kg. He said, "I have always kept them in my bag so as to remind myself that Chinese peasants have made immeasurable contributions to the founding of construction of the New China. So does agriculture. We should always safeguard their interests, keep food security in mind, and remember our own responsibilities."

In the end Sun added, "As Minister of Agriculture, I will stick to the principle of people foremost and serve the development of 'agriculture, countryside and farmer'. I will always bear the whole picture and peasants' interests in my mind, and fulfill my responsibilities with deep affections for tens of thousands of Chinese peasants."

By People's Daily Online

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