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|Monday, May 29, 2000, updated at 18:00(GMT+8)|
Premier: Protect Farmers' Interests
At a national conference on grain production and distribution recently in Beijing, he said the government will not relinquish its control over purchasing grain to protect farmers from being hurt by further drops in grain prices. Since grain prices are dropping and some State-owned companies are reluctant to buy grain at protective prices, lifting controls on grain purchases will trigger a further slump in prices, Zhu said. Zhu said that the government's current policy on reforming the grain circulation sector has been effective. However, Zhu said some problems remain.
The continuous slump in grain prices has reduced the income of grain growers and discouraged many from growing the crop. Some major grain production areas in China have suffered from severe shortages of risk-relief funds and storage space. Restructuring agriculture and grain production has encountered many difficulties.
Zhu emphasized that it is a basic policy of the government to pay protective prices for and place no restrictions on the amount of surplus grain that farmers can sell.
He urged various government departments to implement the central government's policy on grain reform. He asked State-owned grain companies to keep buying grain throughout the year. He also asked that they be prohibited from refusing to purchase grain or paying lower than protective prices for quality grain.
He said local governments should conduct special inspections, dealing seriously with local governments and State-owned grain companies that violate government policy.
The Chinese Government has decided to allocate an additional 8 billion yuan (US$96.38 million) to a risk-relief fund for grain growers this year. It will be used for building 10 million tons of new grain storage capacity this year and another 10 million tons next year.
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