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Agricultural focus urged to fuel next growth stages

By ZHAO YIMENG | China Daily | Updated: 2022-10-22 08:02
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Employees of a grain company dry corn at a facility in Heihe, Heilongjiang province, on Wednesday. [Photo/Xinhua]

Agricultural and rural areas must not be left behind in China's modernization, and comprehensively promoting rural vitalization provides strategic support for development, experts and delegates said.

A report delivered by Xi Jinping to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China on Oct 16 stressed that the country must reinforce the foundations for food security on all fronts.

China's total area of farmland should not fall below 120 million hectares and the country is expected to gradually develop all permanent basic cropland into high-standard cropland, the report said. The nation's food supply should remain firmly in its own hands, it added.

Cheng Guoqiang, a professor with the School of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development, Renmin University of China, said ensuring food security is the top priority of comprehensively promoting rural vitalization.

To increase agricultural production capacity, stringent measures should be taken to protect arable land and ensure that the land is prioritized for growing grain, Cheng said.

The fertile black soil in Northeast China holds great potential for increasing grain production and is important in conserving arable land, according to experts.

Liu Wei, a delegate to the congress and the deputy secretary of the CPC Jilin Provincial Committee, said during a group interview on the sidelines of the congress that the province will make every effort to protect the black soil and further promote the Lishu model — an effective method to improve the soil's quality by returning corn straw to farmland as mulch.

Gu Fengjie, a delegate to the congress and a village Party secretary in Dunhua, Jilin province, said conserving farmland is also protecting farmers' interests.

Gu and her cooperative have been providing free services to farmers for three years in case they gave up returning corn straw to farmland due to increasing costs.

"We would like to ensure good growth of crop seedlings while protecting black soil and preventing erosion," she told Farmers' Daily.

Gradually upgrading permanent basic cropland into high-standard cropland is necessary to ensure the amount of arable land while improving its quality, experts said.

Zhou Ji, a delegate to the congress and the deputy secretary of the CPC Henan Provincial Committee, said Henan has developed more than 5 million hectares of high-quality farmland, ranking second in the country.

"High-quality farmland can turn hilly areas that can only depend on rain for water into fields with high and stable yields," Zhou said.

Cheng, the professor, also suggested that the focus of the government's financial investment in agricultural infrastructure be tilted toward the development of high-quality farmland.

Apart from protecting cropland, the seed industry and the development of agricultural science, technology and equipment will be invigorated and supported, the report said.

Cheng said the country should continuously take measures to vitalize the seed industry, and make sure that its resources are controllable. "China's food security should be guaranteed with seeds from China," he said.

Shi Xiaowei, a delegate to the congress and a technician from the Tianjin Academy of Agricultural Sciences, has been working in the cultivation of wheat varieties which has increased the yields of high-gluten wheat in the city.

Her team will further tap resources in breeding wheat varieties with higher yields, better quality and better adaptation to natural conditions, she said.

Cao Guangqiao, deputy director of the Nanjing Institute of Agricultural Mechanization at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, said machinery and equipment still form a weak point in China's agricultural modernization.

"We should enhance innovation in smart equipment and agricultural machinery for mountainous areas. More self-developed machines are expected to run in the fields of China," Cao said.

Meanwhile, agricultural techniques in field management and disease prevention are essential in stabilizing grain production, experts said.

Du Lizhi, a delegate to the congress and the deputy director of the agriculture and rural affairs bureau in Gaotang county, Shandong province, said scientific management techniques used from planting to harvesting crops will contribute to increasing output.

"Experts from colleges and research institutions, as well as local agricultural technicians, should provide advanced techniques to farmers from all fronts," Du said.

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