Building up China's strength in agriculture by rural revitalization
Updated 17:25, 14-Mar-2023
Wang Jun
Building up China's strength in agriculture by rural revitalization

Building up China's strength in agriculture by rural revitalization.mp3


Editor's note: Decision Makers is a global platform for influential leaders to share their insights on events shaping today's world. Wang Jun is the deputy secretary-general of China Foundation for Rural Development. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

At the end of 2022, the central rural work conference set forth the ambitious goal of building up China's strength in agriculture. It emphasized that the comprehensive promotion of rural revitalization is a crucial task to accomplish this goal. The rural revitalization strategy and the goal of building up China's strength in agriculture are not mutually exclusive but rather mutually reinforcing and should be pursued in tandem.

A strong agricultural country must also be a strong country in agricultural technology and innovation. The "No. 1 central document" for 2023 provides specific arrangements to achieve the goal of building up China's strength in agriculture, primarily through strengthening agricultural science and technology renovation, and upgrading agricultural infrastructure and equipment.

Empowering agriculture with science and technology

With a population of 1.4 billion and only 1.8 billion mu (120 million hectares) of arable land, China is short of farmland and faces significant challenges in enhancing its agricultural productivity. However, the strategy of sustainable farmland use and innovative application of agricultural technology can offer a promising solution.

Building high-standard farmland is vital for stabilizing and improving grain output. It can facilitate the use of modern agricultural technology, promote large-scale and highly professional agricultural production, and advance the modernization of agriculture and rural areas. By the end of 2022, China had built 1 billion mu (about 67 million hectares) of high-standard farmland.

Seeds are like the chips of the agricultural industry. While China's rice and wheat varieties are 100 percent self-developed, with both yield per unit area and total production leading the world, domestically developed varieties of corn and soybeans still lag behind those of developed countries in terms of the yield per unit area. Addressing this gap is a necessary step going forward.

Furthermore, China's unique approach of mobilizing resources nationwide for technological innovation have led to significant developments in areas such as intelligent agricultural machinery, Protected Agriculture, green agricultural inputs (such as pesticides, veterinary medicines, fertilizers, and agricultural films, etc.), and food supply chains. Vertical farming, food factories and other cutting-edge technologies are becoming increasingly mature. China has established a diversified food supply system.

While China is already a major agricultural country, it has yet to become a strong agricultural country. By following the examples of the Netherlands, Israel, and other countries that have overcome limited arable land and unfavorable conditions through deep technological innovation in agriculture, China can further unlock its tremendous potential for agricultural development in the vast dry areas of the west and Gobi deserts.

The Qingxi Village in the city of Yiyang in central China's Hunan Province, August 1, 2022. /Xinhua
The Qingxi Village in the city of Yiyang in central China's Hunan Province, August 1, 2022. /Xinhua

The Qingxi Village in the city of Yiyang in central China's Hunan Province, August 1, 2022. /Xinhua

Unleashing vitality through reforms

As industrialization and urbanization advance, profound changes have taken place in rural areas. The aging rural population and shortage of rural young laborers reflect the urgent need to inject new energy into rural revitalization through reforms.

Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the reform of the rural land contracting and the homestead system has been deepened according to the separation of the ownership rights, contract rights and management rights for rural contracted land. This has promoted the transfer of land management rights to new agricultural management entities such as agricultural cooperatives, professional farmers, family farms, and leading enterprises in agricultural industrialization. It has also expanded the channel of monetarization of rural property rights and homestead land use rights. These reforms have provided policy support for integrated urban-rural development, as well as capital and talent inflows to rural areas.

A draft law on rural economic collectives was deliberated at the 38th session of the Standing Committee of the 13th National People's Congress held on December 27, 2022, bringing rural economic collectives to the forefront. The reform of supply and marketing cooperatives has strengthened their ability to serve farmers. New agricultural management and service entities have gradually become the "main force" of modern agriculture, which is expected to accelerate the larger-scale management of rural land, the circulation of urban-rural resources, and the improvement of agricultural efficiency. A comprehensive modern agricultural management system, based on farmer operation, cooperation and joint efforts, supported by socialized agricultural services, is taking shape.

Guanniuju is a village collective in Dalad Banner, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Its entire 2,100 mu (140 hectares) of basic farmland previously owned by households has been transferred to the collective, and merged into 3,100 mu (nearly 207 hectares) of high-standard farmland after the removal of land cultivation pathways.

A production team consisting of six grain cultivation experts elected by the whole collective has been established to carry out production and land management. The collective organizes centralized purchase and sales of crops, and provides agricultural services to farmers. As a result, the planting area has increased by 47 percent; the yield has increased by 20 percent; and the production cost has decreased by 25 percent. After deducting the salaries and bonuses for the six grain cultivation experts and the 10 percent collective retention, the income per mu of farmland which can be distributed to each household is 1,360 Chinese yuan (about $197), nearly doubling the income when they practiced individual family farming. The surplus labor force liberated from farming has also increased their income by more than 4 million yuan (about $580,000) through providing labor services elsewhere.

The change in land management and production relations in Guanniuju village cooperative is a spontaneous movement by farmers to unleash the vitality of arable land. The result is an increase in the area of farmland, the build-up of high-standard farmland, the acceleration of agricultural mechanization, the improvement of production efficiency, the reduction of production costs, the strengthening of collective economy, and the increase of farmers' income. It has significant value for replication and promotion.

The task of building up China's strength in agriculture is both daunting and imperative, requiring sustained efforts and perseverance. Yet, as long as we follow the CPC Central Committee's strategy of comprehensively promoting rural revitalization and moving faster to build up China's strength in agriculture, pursue technology-driven advancements, constantly reform and innovate, focus on our goals and work steadfastly, we will surely achieve the goal of building up China's strength in agriculture.

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