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Food and agriculture

China’s countryside revival gets a government push with farm subsidies and other reforms

  • Mechanisation and technological advances to be made available for small household farms in new commitment from Beijing
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 December, 2018, 12:48pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 December, 2018, 12:48pm

China’s massive agricultural sector is set for a revival following a government commitment to introduce new measures to speed up mechanisation for its farmers, boost domestic demand and raise rural incomes.

The announcement, which includes equipment subsidies for the rural sector, followed the State Council meeting on Wednesday.

China’s rural population has been steadily declining as a result of rapid industrialisation and urbanisation, and it needs to encourage farmers to raise mechanisation rates to cover the labour shortfall and improve yields.

The cabinet said in a statement that China would grant subsidies to encourage the use of deeper ploughing machines and also make it easier for farmers to borrow money to buy machinery.

China is making its vegetables grow bigger, faster and stronger ... using electricity

Under the new rules, domestic and foreign agricultural machinery would be treated equally.

The statement said the first task was to raise mechanised harvesting rates for crops like rice, wheat, corn, potato, rapeseed, cotton and sugar cane.

The cabinet said it would also encourage technological advances to support the precision application of pesticides and boost the efficiency of fertilisers and irrigation.

Although China has been trying to encourage consolidation by making it easier for farmers to sell their land leases to agribusinesses, the country’s farming sector still consists of large numbers of small household farms, which has held back mechanisation.

To try to resolve the problem, China will support research into machinery that can be used in small-scale or remote mountain farms, and will also encourage the creation of professional service centres allowing small household farms to share agricultural equipment.