GUANGDONG will not re-introduce central planning in agriculture even though the province relies on imported grain and was battling against high prices, according to an adviser to the provincial government. Cheng Bawen, an agronomist at Guangdong's Centre for Rural Development Studies, criticised grain coupons, which were revived in some inland provinces last year in an attempt to relieve the pressure of high grain prices, as a step backwards. Mr Cheng stressed the collective procurement and distribution system in rural Guangdong was different from the centralised one and was fully autonomous. 'The system [in Guangdong] is run by farmers themselves. They have to support themselves, find their own customers, decide on what to sell and buy and everything else,' Mr Cheng said. In early 1994, Beijing re-centralised the procurement and distribution of grain and cotton in a bid to rescue the beleaguered agricultural sector. 'They call it macro-economic adjustment and control, but it is in effect central planning,' said Mr Cheng, who has conducted extensive research on Guangdong's rural reform and development. 'Many regions in the north don't really know what the market economy is and they have actually met a lot of problems during the process of 'marketisation'. 'But Guangdong has employed market mechanisms from the very beginning to achieve market economic reform. It is leading the whole country in this aspect,' he said. He said the Government still gave instructions and imposed quotas to ensure grain production, but many farmers had defied orders and met the quotas by purchasing from neighbouring provinces. 'The Government knows that farmers have turned fields into fish ponds and orchards because the latter sell much better. But nothing can be done because it is the market, instead of orders, which works now. Besides, we can always buy [rice] from Jiangxi and Hunan.' He said Guangdong would be fine if it was 70 per cent self-sufficient in grain. 'Guangdong was, is and will be a grain importer. This is a structural problem.'