Pro­fes­sional farm­ers needed for the fields

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT - WANG YIQING The au­thor is a writer with China Daily. wangy­iqing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

ho will farm in the fields?” The cen­tral gov­ern­ment raised this im­por­tant ques­tion in the state­ment is­sued af­ter Cen­tral Ru­ral Work Con­fer­ence on Tues­day, clearly high­light­ing the es­sen­tial role of peo­ple in ru­ral work.

Be­cause we can hardly deal well with ru­ral work with­out plenty of qual­i­fied farm­ers, solv­ing the prob­lem of the lack of qual­ity farm­ers is the pre­req­ui­site for solv­ing the prob­lems of agri­cul­ture.

But the fact is, for a long time, be­ing a “farmer” has been an un­de­sir­able iden­tity in China, due to farm­ers’ low in­comes and poor liv­ing con­di­tions. The in­come from work­ing in the fields for a year may be less than can be made in three months work­ing in a city. Be­cause of this, at the end of 2012, China had more than 260 mil­lion farmer­turned-work­ers who had left their home vil­lages to work in cities. The agri­cul­tural la­bor force, es­pe­cially the young and ed­u­cated, has been dras­ti­cally drained from ru­ral ar­eas due to the low re­turns to be made from house­hold farm­ing.

To make farm­ing an at­trac­tive oc­cu­pa­tion, the au­thor­i­ties need to make ef­forts to in­crease farm­ers’ in­comes first in or­der to boost ru­ral res­i­dents’ en­thu­si­asm for farm­ing.

The au­thor­i­ties should first make ef­forts to change the tra­di­tional self-suf­fi­cient farm­ing model and es­tab­lish mod­ern pro­fes­sional farm­ing, as agri­cul­tural in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion, larger farms and in­ten­sive farm­ing will ef­fec­tively change the cur­rent low-ef­fi­ciency farm­ing model and raise farm­ers’ in­comes. In the state­ment, the gov­ern­ment specif­i­cally states it will ad­vance sup­port to house­hold farms, farmer co­op­er­a­tives and in­dus­tri­al­ized lead­ing farm­ing en­ter­prises, which is aimed at cul­ti­vat­ing up­graded farm­ing units and pro­mot­ing larger scale farm­ing op­er­a­tions.

Mod­ern agri­cul­tural ser­vices are also needed to sup­port mod­ern farm­ing meth­ods, and this is some­thing the gov­ern­ment will em­pha­size in fu­ture ru­ral de­vel­op­ment. “We should cul­ti­vate a mech­a­nism for pur­chas­ing ser­vices and form a multi-level, multi-form and diver­si­fied so­cial­ized sys­tem of ser­vices for agri­cul­ture”, Xu Xiao­qing, head of the agri­cul­tural econ­omy depart­ment with the State Coun­cil’s De­vel­op­ment Re­search Center, told the me­dia.

Ex­ter­nal sup­port is also in­dis­pens­able if farm­ers are to be­come more qual­i­fied and pro­fes­sional. Zhang Hongyu, head of the in­dus­trial pol­icy and reg­u­la­tion depart­ment with the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, de­scribes the char­ac­ter­is­tics of the new-style pro­fes­sional farmer as “hav­ing cap­i­tal, mas­ter­ing tech­nol­ogy and be­ing good at man­age­ment in farm­ing”. How­ever, th­ese three el­e­ments are just what the ma­jor­ity of tra­di­tional farm­ers lack. Train­ing, in­clud­ing train­ing in tech­nol­ogy, pro­fes­sional skills and man­age­ment ex­pe­ri­ence are needed to cul­ti­vate pro­fes­sional farm­ers. Prefer­able poli­cies, agri­cul­tural sub­si­dies and fi­nan­cial sup­port from the gov­ern­ment will also be nec­es­sary in or­der to over­come the fi­nanc­ing ob­sta­cle.

By en­sur­ing farm­ers have the nec­es­sary cap­i­tal, tech­no­log­i­cal and man­age­ment skills, it should be pos­si­ble to achieve the goal of dou­bling the av­er­age in­come of farm­ers in 2010 by the end of 2020.

Im­prov­ing ru­ral peo­ple’s liv­ing stan­dards is es­sen­tial if a well-off so­ci­ety in an all-round way is to be re­al­ized. While China has achieved rapid eco­nomic growth in re­cent years, the fruits of re­form and open­ing-up have been en­joyed by ur­ban cit­i­zens rather than ru­ral cit­i­zens, and there is a grow­ing wealth gap be­tween ur­ban and ru­ral res­i­dents. In fact, a huge pro­por­tion of China’s ru­ral pop­u­la­tion still lives in poverty, and they should not be­come voice­less.

China’s ru­ral pop­u­la­tion still ac­counts for about half the to­tal pop­u­la­tion and their in­ter­ests should not be ig­nored or sac­ri­ficed.

Whether agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion can be a prof­itable and at­trac­tive means of mak­ing a liv­ing is the key to an­swer­ing the ques­tion who will farm in the fields.

And this is a ques­tion of es­pe­cial sig­nif­i­cance to China, given its huge pop­u­la­tion. As the gov­ern­ment high­lighted in its state­ment of the con­fer­ence, “only when a coun­try is ba­si­cally self­suf­fi­cient in food, can it take the ini­tia­tive in food se­cu­rity and grasp the over­all sit­u­a­tion for eco­nomic and so­cial growth”.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.