Anhui farms will be first to merge
By IRENE SO
ANHUI is likely to be the first province in China to resume collective farming.
The provincial leadership recently announced all farming households in the province should merge their plots when farm contracts expire this year, according to the China News Service yesterday.
In common with other provinces, farm contracts for most farmers in Anhui expire this year, 15 years after Deng Xiaoping kicked off his rural reform in the province, replacing communes with the 'household responsibility system'.
Anhui is a key agriculture province and earlier reports said the State Council was considering setting up contract farming on larger fields in a bid to boost farm production.
The CNS despatch yesterday described the signing of new contracts with Anhui farmers as the 'second round of contract farming', saying it could be completed this year.
The new contracts would be for 30 years, with up to 70 years for some infertile land.
The contracts would be classified according to fertility, location and irrigation.
'Farms should be merged into larger plots to complement the development of irrigation networks, road systems and other infrastructure,' the report said.
'The contract [renewal] system should accord with infrastructure planning in towns and villages.' It quoted agricultural officials as saying all farmland is to be 'collectively-owned' and the Government would prohibit change of use.
Senior Communist Party leaders have warned against the rapid disappearance of farmland under pressure for development, fearing there would be insufficient food to feed the population.