Party authorities have issued a circular urging regions to ensure the purchase of grain is accomplished without mishaps. The autumn harvest is seen by the leadership as vital to ensuring economic growth and stability in the villages. A Beijing source said yesterday the circular, issued by the Communist Party Central Committee, warned of growing numbers of disturbances in the countryside. 'Farmers in some provinces are reluctant to sell their produce at prices offered by government procurers because they can get better prices in private markets,' the source said. 'However, to ensure stability, the Government needs to have at least six months' supply of grain.' The source said paramilitary forces had been called in to ensure satisfactory grain procurement in several isolated instances in provinces, including Henan. The circular said departments including agriculture, finance and accounting, should ensure prompt payment to farmers. It also urged local authorities to avoid using force in collecting the harvests. It is understood that another reason for rising rural discontent is the increase in the number of taxes. A farming expert in Beijing said the variety and volume of taxes and other levies had increased after the floods because local administration needed more funds for reconstruction. Farmers had also become more adept at using protest actions to force local government to make concessions, he said. For example, rural protesters avoided head-on confrontations with police, preferring non-violent tactics such as prolonged sit-ins at government offices. In the past week, the media has run stories reassuring the public that the autumn harvest was satisfactory, despite the floods. Xinhua told yesterday how Sichuan, a leading grain producer, was expected to harvest 35.75 billion kilograms of grain this year, 250 million more than last year. Local officials were asked to devote more funds to irrigation and agriculture while holding down taxation on farmers. Beijing is in the process of sending teams to various provinces to ensure the probity of rural officials and the effectiveness of village cells.