China Daily (Hong Kong)
Wide range of events promote harmony and reap economic benefits
This year marks the fourth Farmers’ Harvest Festival, the first to be held since the law on the promotion of rural vitalization was adopted by the national legislature in April.
So, why did the nation want to launch a festival especially for farmers and make it a lawful event?
Peasants, the largest proportion of the Chinese population, have made great contributions to national development.
Han Changfu, then-minister of agriculture and rural affairs, said in 2018 before the launch of the festival that it would greatly encourage the passion and creativity of hundreds of millions of farmers and enhance their sense of happiness.
Memories of farming culture are fading as industrialization and urbanization advance.
Han said the Farmers’ Harvest Festival, “a distinctive cultural symbol with fresh meaning in the new era”, allows people to release their emotions, inherit traditional culture and find their roots through mountains, waters and fields.
Moreover, the festival gives them the opportunity to enjoy more public services and diversified cultural products, Han said.
“The whole of society will feel that agriculture is moving forward, farming is an attractive occupation, and rural areas are beautiful places to live and work,” he added.
The festival falls on the Autumnal Equinox, when the weather is cooler and there are the same number of hours of night and day. It is a time for bumper harvests and autumn outings across the country.
Han said, “We chose this day so that urban residents and villagers could join in the festival. It’s also the right time to mark agricultural achievements.”
Before the festival was launched, a dozen ethnic groups nationwide held traditional events to celebrate the harvest, including the Wangguo Festival in the Tibet autonomous region and the Torch Festival of the Yi People. Most of these festivals are celebrated in the second half of the year.
“Setting up a festival at national level in which all ethnic groups take part and celebrate a good harvest will promote the harmony and development of a big family,” Han said.
Cao Xingsui, researcher at the China Agricultural Museum in Beijing and one of the experts who proposed the festival, said that the aim of establishing it was not to make it a political event, but to cultivate a folk celebration.
“It should be a festival for farmers with roots in the fertile soil of rural areas. Rather than invite farmers to cities for celebrations, the festival should attract urban residents to the countryside,” Cao told Beijing News.
The festival has been effective in promoting sales of agricultural produce, cultivating agricultural brands and increasing production and incomes, Cao said.
“Even today, most Chinese still live in rural areas and have deep feelings for agriculture. Establishing the festival enhances the nation’s self-confidence, and it will become a cultural symbol as a new folk custom,” he added.
“Activities in various places during the festival have combined local customs and specialties, which in turn have promoted rural tourism and brought economic benefits.”