[Documents menu] Documents menu

China Finds New Way for Agricultural Development

Xinhua, 27 June 2001

SHIJIAZHUANG, June 27 (Xinhua)-- Living in a village of north China's Hebei Province, Ma Yuhe is not just a farmer, but a leaser and an employee in the meantime.

As a farmer, he owns and cultivates land under his household, as a leaser, he leases his household land to a vegetable company, and as an employee, he finds himself a job planting foreign vegetable species for the company.

Compared with his previous annual income of merely 3,000 yuan, Ma now earns 5,000 yuan in payment in addition to another 3,000 yuan for rent.

Ma is not alone. Today, over 40 million Chinese rural households, or 15 percent of the total, have realized a considerable increase in profit by cooperating with various economies like companies and agencies.

This has proven to be an effective way of reinvigorating the agriculture of the country, said Vice Minister of Agriculture Zhang Baowen, who affirmed that China now strongly supports and encourages such an industrialized development of agriculture.

In the early stages of the country's reform and opening up drive, the rural household responsibility system had greatly stimulated farmers' initiative and led to the rapid growth of the agricultural economy.

However, limitations of the system have gradually shown up once agriculture has upgraded to a certain level, resulting in the stagnation in both agricultural development and farmers' income in recent years.

In 1996, with a view of changing the situation, the government set up several pilot places in south China's Fujian and Guangdong provinces, where, through cooperation of various forms, enterprises and companies worked to bind the previously dispersed rural households together and connect them to both the domestic and the international market.

Today, Ma is quite satisfied with his current situation. In the past, I had to ride my bicycle for a long way to the market to sell what was sown in the field every three or five days, he recalled. The cost was high, but the price was not.

Quite encouraged, about another 100 households in Ma's village are eager to follow suit by cooperating with the company called Greenland.

Through such a cooperation, not only the individual production of farmers is linked to the market, but technologies, capital and talent are introduced to the cultivation field, said General Manager Liu Yiwen of Greenland.

Over the past two years, Greenland, together with another agricultural research institute, has introduced nearly 100 foreign vegetable species and helped over 200 rural households realize an accumulated annual income growth of 3 million yuan.

According to estimates, over 30,000 enterprises or companies like Greenland are now engaging in industrialized agricultural development throughout China, producing an annual profit and tax of 50 billion yuan.

With their strong economic strength, stable sales channel and acute market information, they direct farmers in their cultivation by catering to the market.

In this sense, industrialized development of agriculture is a driving force for the adjustment of China's agricultural structure, remarked Vice Minister Zhang.

Through industrialized agricultural development, the cultivation acreage of high-quality wheat and corn expanded by over 500 hectares last year, famous cereal production bases like Hebei, Henan and Anhui are developing into animal husbandry bases, and certain provinces like Shandong and Fujian have grown into major exporters of processed agricultural products.

Economists here also believe that industrialized development of agriculture, another creation following the historic household responsibility system, is the necessary way to seek further agricultural development in China.