Officials face tough job meeting farming goals
By AGNES CHEUNG
FARMING targets set to improve peasants' livelihood in the coming five years are difficult to achieve, senior central and regional agricultural officials warn.
They stressed that measures must be stepped up to resolve peasants' discontent and problems, and to uphold the principal role of farming industry.
Officials at a central conference on farming in Beijing noted that it was a tough task to achieve the goals set in the Ninth Five-Year Economic Plan (1996-2000), which aims to produce 490 billion to 500 billion kilograms of grain annually by the end of the century.
The plan also seeks to solve the problem of rural poverty. To obtain favourable farming results this year, the conference said the size of farmland for grain should be held at a level of 110 million hectares, while the land for cotton production should reach six million hectares.
The authorities have been urged to give top priority to developing agriculture, and to guarantee planning and funds for the sector. Resolute measures must be taken to relieve farmers' financial burden, the officials said.
Meanwhile, irrigation facilities and other basic infrastructure has to be greatly improved to help achieve better production.
The meeting also listed eight major issues to be worked on in order to achieve the farming targets.
Among the issues are improvement in production conditions and application of technology in farming.
The questions of poverty relief and population control also needed to be seriously addressed and resolved in the coming five years, officials said.
Despite the expected difficulties, the conference noted an opportunity for the development of farming.
With the efforts of raising grain and cotton prices and reform in their selling and distributing system, peasants were motivated towards farming again.