Rethink on farming demanded

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 March, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 13 March, 1995, 12:00am

CHINA'S beleaguered farming sector has come under the scrutiny of delegates to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

Delegates from provinces like Gansu, Liaoning, Jilin, Jiangxi and Guangxi said the Government had to quickly reform its agricultural policy or face a grain supply crisis.

And there would be dire consequences if the Government continued to ignore the widening income gap between the impoverished western inland provinces and the well-to-do east coast, they warned.

Their suggestions were collected by the CPPCC Proposals Collection Office which will refer them to the relevant departments.

Premier Li Peng said in his Government Work Report there would be no major price adjustment for 1995.

Last year, China's total grain output reached 444.5 billion kilograms, a decrease of 12 billion kg from the previous year.

Zhang Yan, a CPPCC delegate from Gansu, said much needed to be done to fight poverty and improve farming in his province.

He said as many as 4.27 million people in Gansu still lived below the 'absolute poverty line', earning less than 300 yuan (HK$275) a year. Gansu contributed less than one per cent of China's economic output.

Although Mr Zhang acknowledged Gansu had a poor economic foundation, he said 'deep-rooted feudal ideas' among peasants were a key factor behind the province's problems.

'How to clear these conceptual blocks has become a key issue in [our] effort to shake off poverty and achieve prosperity,' Mr Zhang said.

He urged the Government to pump more money into Gansu to solve the 'bread and butter' problems of the peasants and resettle families away from 'hopeless' arid areas in the province.

The Government needed to allocate more funds for education to wipe out illiteracy, Mr Zhang said.

Meanwhile, a paper submitted by the Chinese Peasants' and Workers' Democratic Party - one of the nine non-communist parties in China - urged the Government to practice 'large-scale farming' to raise farm output.

The paper said although the 'household contract system' suggested by paramount leader Deng Xiaoping 16 years ago had helped abolish the 'big rice pots' mentality among the farmers, the system could no longer meet farming needs.

The party said only through economy of scale could China raise its grain output.

'While [we] must continue the contract system . . . [we] also need to develop rural collective economic units and nurture a reasonable scale of development for farming,' it said.

The paper also warned that the rapidly-growing rural population could cause serious 'social dislocation' if the problem was not solved satisfactorily.

China's surplus rural workforce has been put at 100 million.

The party suggested the Government should support the growth of the township industry to absorb some of the surplus farmhands.

According to Fu Zhiwan, a deputy director of the CPPCC Proposal Collection Office, less than 10 per cent of the proposals by CPPCC delegates last year have been adopted by the authorities.