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Lawmakers concerned with use of arable land

By Zhao Yinan (China Daily)

12:53, December 29, 2011

BEIJING - Top lawmakers on Wednesday urged the government to issue a policy to ensure farmland is not being wasted as an increasing number of farmers are leaving for cities amid rapid urbanization.

Uyunqimg, vice-chairwoman of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, said it is crucial to ensure arable land be sub-contracted out after its tenant migrates to urban areas for a better life.

The government should issue a policy as soon as possible to make clear that the land, after being contracted to a sub-tenant, will not be abandoned and will only be used for farming, she said in a report to top lawmakers after an investigative trip.

The report follows Premier Wen Jiabao's call on Tuesday, at a conference on next year's rural work, for an end to sacrificing farmers' property rights. Wen also pledged to "greatly increase the share of gains that go to farmers from enhancing the value of land".

To better protect farmers' land property rights, Uyunqimg urged better supervision over the land circulation procedure whereby farmers contract their arable land to others after moving to cities as a way to prevent land waste and help solve the food security issue.

About 242 million migrant workers have left their land for more opportunities and better welfare in urban areas, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security said.

The migration, along with other causes, leaves at least 21.5 million hectares of farmland lying untilled in winter in 16 provinces in the southern part of China, according to the statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture.

The top legislature's investigation, however, found that 13.8 million hectares of arable land, 16 percent of the country's total, has been re-contracted to others after the original tenants left.

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