President pushes for greater efforts on agricultural reform
VIVIEN PIK-KWAN CHAN
President Jiang Zemin has called for more efforts to hasten agricultural reforms and increase grain production.
In a speech during an inspection tour of Henan province, Mr Jiang pledged to stabilise and strengthen the household contract responsibility system in order to maximise benefits for peasants.
'The household contract responsibility system is the basic policy for the agricultural sector and needs to be upheld,' Xinhua (the New China News Agency) yesterday quoted Mr Jiang as saying.
Under the system, farming households sign a contract with the authorities on the amount of output to be surrendered to the state.
In return, the households are given individual plots.
But Mr Jiang said that to enable the system to move on to a more sophisticated stage, it was necessary to encourage peasants to develop larger scale production in order to achieve economy of scale benefits.
Mr Jiang also pointed out that poor co-ordination between the production and marketing of agricultural produce had led to huge waste.
'The low adjustability of the market resulted in the strange phenomenon of coexistence of supply shortage and over stock of produce in the country,' he said.
He urged officials to step up produce market reform.
'One of the methods is to develop agents to link farming households to the market,' Mr Jiang said.
'In order to remain independent and self-sufficient among international competition, it is very important that China's grain production does not decrease,' he said.
He said grain production was not the responsibility of inland agricultural provinces only; coastal provinces should be responsible for growing grain as well.
'Inland agricultural provinces should try their best to increase the commercial value of grain produce, while coastal provinces must strive hard to raise their self-sufficiency,' he said.
He said that because of state budget restraints, the special fund for agricultural risk and the state guarantee purchase price for agricultural produce have not given enough protection to farmers.
He promised these mechanisms would be improved to offer better legal protection to peasants.
He appealed to farming households to save water and land resources.