|Dr. Franz Fischler during the interview with People's Daily Online at Austrian embassy in Beijing. (Photo by Zhang Yue)|
"The large-and-coarse American model does not fit in with Chinese agricultural reality. In China's situation, structural adjustment, improved environmental services and the development of new sources of income are issues that might be addressed in all rural areas."
Former member of the European Commission responsible for Agriculture and Rural Development has an interview with People's Daily Online during his visit to China for Boao Asian Forum. The following is the excerpt of the interview with Dr. Franz Fischler.
People's Daily Online: In China, since the rural labor force has increasingly moved to cities for jobs away from the farms, a tendency of non-agriculture and non-grain development is appearing in rural areas. Are there similar situation in Europe?
Dr. Franz Fischler: In Europe, we also face the reality that huge movement of people from rural area to the cities. There is no other way than to accommodate infrastructure in rural area to this reality, making it more attractive in countryside. For example, in Austria, my home country, tourism industry is not concentrated in urban area. Ski resorts and many tourism spots spreads on the country side.
Farming families have more children than urban family. Therefore we have rural development projects to help those rural people find jobs. We try to shorten the distance people have to commute to their work, as much as possible, within an hour. In today's information society, people can work at home using internet.
People's Daily Online: Facing the loss of agricultural population, some argue that the labor-saving U.S. farming model sets good example for China's agricultural development. What's your opinion?
Dr. Franz Fischler: The large-and-coarse American model does not fit in with Chinese agricultural reality because China has large population, but not that much arable land. In China's situation, structural adjustment, improved environmental services and the development of new sources of income are issues that might be addressed in all rural areas.
If China would like to keep the family farm sustain, you have to think about ways how you provide the necessary income for all these families. Family farm is typical model of farming system in Europe. Family farms are not large in scale, but productive, have more stable crop-related income, and more importantly, they are run by better educated or specialized farmer couples who are labor force as well as managers of their own farm.
We also have part-time farming, which means farmers could work in tourism industry or other industry in slack season. Therefore, we are not facing the problem that farmer have to give up farming for jobs to increase family income.