Enhancing Agricultural Quality and Efficiency through Reform
China’s agriculture requires a quality revolution. Only that will solidify effective agricultural products supply to meet the demands of social development.
How should China carry out the agricultural supply-side structural reform to create an efficient supply of agricultural products? The answer lies in the quality of agricultural products. China’s agriculture requires a quality revolution. Only that will solidify effective agricultural products supply to meet the demands of social development.
China’s agricultural production must transform from the previous mode of only pursuing yield increases to a mode featuring moderately prosperous agriculture which sets higher requirements on product quality, food security, health, and ecological protection, so as to meet Chinese consumers’ growing demand for quality agricultural products. Achieving this goal not only requires structural adjustment of agriculture and changes in production modes, but also the remodeling of the entire industrial chain from source to circulation.
By 2020, China will become a moderately prosperous society in all respects. Consumption habits of the Chinese people will greatly contrast the times when only basic needs such as food and clothing were satisfied. They will attach greater importance to food quality, health, security and environmental protection.
For decades, China’s agricultural production has been quantity-oriented. The country’s annual agricultural statistical indicators are mainly based on grain yields, and high-quality agricultural products are scarce. Several major factors influence this phenomenon.
From the angle of production, although China is home to a great number of farmers, they don’t possess strong negotiation abilities in the purchasing process. Intermediaries do not raise acquisition prices for agricultural products which use less fertilizers and pesticides. From the angle of sales, the current industrial chain for China’s agricultural products is not complete. Producers have no idea of where their products go or who ultimately consumes them. Similarly, consumers don’t know exactly who produced the agricultural products they purchased. Trust is hard to build between producers and consumers, which makes improvements in quality and yield of agricultural products difficult. Agricultural products turned out in large numbers but of poor quality were easily accepted by consumers when they barely had enough to eat and wear, but they hardly meet the requirements of consumers who already lead fairly well-off lives.
To improve the quality of China’s agricultural products and meet the upgraded demands of an increasing number of
consumers, the entire industrial chain needs to be reshaped from the bottom up.
First, a diversification strategy should be employed in seed breeding. Increasing yields should no longer be the major goal of seed breeding. Varieties aiming for higher quality should be promoted and utilized. At present, the popularization of agricultural product varieties places too much emphasis on yield increases, which knocks out high-quality but lower-yield varieties. While this practice may be profitable for producers, it causes enormous losses to consumers.
Second, the entire industrial chain should be simplified and restructured, and integrated production should be employed. There are now too many links from production to consumption, which makes quality control and management a mere formality. When facing grain procurement from big companies, farmers don’t have any negotiation power and can only rely on quantity. And it is impossible for these enterprises to properly check the quality of products from each farmer. As a result, the companies and farmers don’t trust each other, which further hurts product quality.
Solutions for such problems should include: Big companies should establish agricultural bases to set up a closer relationship with local farmers or employ integrated production. Farmers can join up to establish cooperatives and set up their own brands. Through integration of the primary, secondary, and tertiary industries, production won’t be limited to previous categories and the industrial chain will be extended. Farmers should establish their own sales terminals and make direct connections between production and sales. Such strategies will not only increase the incomes of farmers, but give consumers the ability to trace the origins of the agricultural products they purchased and get trustworthy food.
In the past few years, with China’s confirmation and certification of land rights in rural areas, rural land property rights have become clearer, and the cumulative area of land transferred in the country exceeds 30 percent of the total. Various new business entities, including big growers, family farms, farming cooperatives, and leading agricultural enterprises, are developing fast. These new business entities bring higher demands for many things such as capital turnover and mortgage guarantee, which requires preferential policies for farmers as well as supportive fiscal and monetary policies. In the future, China’s agricultural development should take measures such as carrying out scale operation, reducing unnecessary use of fertilizers and pesticides and offering social services. Such measures are expected to reduce production costs, enhance agricultural quality and efficiency, and improve the weak links in agricultural supply such as agricultural infrastructure construction, thus rebalancing the agricultural product structure now plaguing the Chinese market.
incomes of local enterprises and promote employment of povertystricken farmers. “Today, we have more than 300 online shops, which have created more than 1,000 jobs,” says Chen Linlin, a government worker responsible for construction of the museum.
In a remote place like Morin Dawa Daur Autonomous Banner, establishing cooperatives and employing the “internet + agriculture” strategy have provided farmers with platforms to sell their products. Furthermore, it has provided locals with new thinking modes, business patterns and lifestyles.
Still relying on agriculture, the banner is home to a number of big growers. Since 2015 when the banner began to implement the “internet + agriculture” strategy, many local agricultural cooperatives were established in succession, including corn, soybean, pork and agricultural machinery cooperatives.
Yue Guiling is chairman of the Xinxingyuan Professional Plantation Cooperative of Morin Dawa Daur Autonomous Banner and president of the banner’s e-commerce association. The plantation cooperative she operates was established in October 2010 to promote the planting, processing, selling, and storage of soybeans, other beans and side crops. The cooperative now manages a plantation area of 593 hectares and a processing area of more than 8,700 square meters and includes 32 households as members.
With this cooperative as her base, Yue contacted another 12 cooperatives in seven townships and villages of the banner, including a homegrown chicken cooperative, a rice cultivation cooperative and a tobacco plantation cooperative. These cooperatives were united to form a major comprehensive group with products featuring centralized package and branding as well as centralized training of manpower. Products from these cooperatives can be found for sale in the experience museum. Through internet promotion and online orders, products from these cooperatives are now sold all over the country. Now, Yue manages 13 cooperatives, each with a membership of about 30 to 40 farming households. And around 500 farming households have benefited from these cooperatives.
On the “internet + agriculture” e” strategy, Yue has much to say: “It primarily solves sales problems plaguing agricultural products. In the traditional sales method, many y agricultural products are hard to sell at decent prices. If farmers lose se money, they quickly lose motivation on to continue planting. The new strategy places emphasis on quality. y. For example, a kilogram of ordinary ary soybeans generally sells at around four yuan, but a kilogram of topshelf organic soybeans sells at 12 to 14 yuan. For farmers planting organic soybeans, they can escape poverty in just one year. Considering ng factors such as subsidies from the government, farmers can enjoy
products should also be created to satisfy the increasing demands.
Environmental protection is tremendously significant to the rural vitalization strategy. The strategy cannot be implemented at the expense of the environment. To win the battle for blue skies, straw burning should be regulated and small-sized coal ovens with high efficiency and close-to-zero emissions should be promoted in rural areas of northern China where heat is used most in winter. Urban-rural water supply and sewage treatment should be coordinated, and environmentally friendly methods should be used to improve sewage treatment in rural areas. Projects to upgrade restrooms and water facilities should continue to safeguard water safety in the countryside. Waste recycling patterns—classified at the residential level, collected at the village level, transported at the town level and processed at the county level— should be promoted to activate the cycle to minimize waste and generate energy. Environmental law enforcement should be strengthened in rural areas to prevent urban and industrial pollution from being transferred to the countryside. To achieve sustainable rural vitalization in China, pre-assessment, in-process supervision and appraisal of agricultural production are also required.
The fundamental role the market plays in distributing resources as well as the government’s function should both be given full play in rural vitalization. Special funds should be launched to increase investment in environmental protection in rural areas, so sufficient and cost-effective ecological products and services are made available to enterprises when they participate in rural construction. Many benefits can be produced by the system that holds local Party and government leaders accountable for environmental protection and implements compensation in accordance with performance in environmental protection. The system favors common prosperity and prevents problems. It motivates the public and helps increase forest coverage to improve the environment. Advanced applicable technologies and integral renovation should be utilized and promoted. Performancedriven methods and third-party supervision of pollution prevention and control, as well as post evaluation of construction projects, are needed to minimize the cost of improving the rural environment. Simple language and down-to-earth methods will help increase public awareness of environmental protection and sustainable development. Exchange activities concerning environmental protection should be conducted to motivate villagers to take part in environmental governance by performing tasks such as garbage classification, helping them gain a sense of pride and honor in constructing beautiful villages. Many tiny drops make a mighty ocean. Everyone’s efforts will inject vitality into the construction of the beautiful countryside as rural China walks the green path of development.
Under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping at the core, Chinese people are working together, and the rural vitalization strategy is fostering thriving businesses, pleasant living environments, improved social etiquette, effective governance and prosperity in rural areas of China. Hopefully, agriculture will become a promising industry, farming will become an attractive profession, and rural areas will transform into appealing places to live and work.
Yue Guiling (right) discusses the rice sales situation with Liu Dongling, head of a local rice cooperative. Since 2015 when the banner began to implement the “internet + agriculture” strategy, many local agricultural cooperatives were established in...
December 15, 2017: Locals buy vegetables at Yunguang Market in Shanghai. Contrasting traditional vegetable markets, Yunguang features uniform identifiers, management and brand, enhancing the experience for consumers. VCG
November 12, 2017: Villagers pick chrysanthemum flowers at a planting base in Huai’an City, Jiangsu Province. The base covering an area of dozens of hectares is the biggest of its kind in the city. by Li Xiang/xinhua