Chinese rural land contracts extended for 30 years
Xin Ruixue, Meng Mingwei

Three papers were issued in one day offering guidance to China's 600 million farmers. The most pressing issue, experts say, concerns the nation's rural land. One paper stresses the protection of farmers' rights by keeping the stability and consistency of rural land contracts. Thus, farmers can keep working on their contracted land for 30 more years upon the expiry of current arrangements.

Zhang Haishan, a farmer from Guanduqiao Village, Henan Province, said, "We are so happy to hear that the current contract will be extended. Land is the most important thing to Chinese farmers. If we have land in hand, we feel safe, and our country's food will be stable too."

In China, rural land is collectively owned. Its use right is held by an individual household that contracts a piece of land. In 2014, the use right was separated into "the contract right" and "the management right" so that farmers could retain the contract right and transfer the management right only.

Zhang Mingtang, another farmer from the same village, said, "My son is working in Guangdong. He doesn't want to come back home and work as a farmer any more. Now we can decide whether to continue to contract our land or we can also choose to lease our land to others, use it as security for loans, or invest it in a cooperative in exchange for shares without losing our contract right."

Liang Fuquan, the Party chief of the local CPC committee, said, "Some don't want to farm while some want to do it more. It will help pool more land together and realize intensive and large-scale production."

The new guideline mentioned an improvement in the rural land transferring market. As China is becoming increasingly urbanized, experts say it's also important to integrate small farmer households into modern agriculture.

(Cover: Farmland in east China's Jiangsu Province, February 25, 2019. /VCG Photo