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Growth of rural income to slow
By Tan Yingzi (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-04-16 07:37

Income earned by Chinese farmers will grow by just 6 percent this year, following a drop in agricultural prices and rising unemployment.

Farmers earned an average of 4,761 yuan ($680) last year, which represented an 8 percent increase on the year before.

But a Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) report said income growth would slow down this year because of a drop in product prices and an increase in the number of jobless migrant workers caused by the financial crisis.

Migrant workers' incomes will grow by 5 percent this year - the slowest rate since 1984 - compared to more than 10 percent last year, the report said.

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Farmers earn nearly 40 percent of their incomes from jobs in the city.

The report said that the spending of urban residents was equal to that of three farmers.

"It is difficult to boost the rural market when farmers cannot get rich quickly," Li Zhou, the editor of the report and deputy director of CASS Institute of Rural Development, said yesterday.

About 230 million of China's 800 million farmers work in cities, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

But many are facing a tough time as the global financial crisis has forced thousands of labor-intensive factories to slash jobs and salaries.

Experts want the government to take more measures, including strategies to improve the farmers' ability to make money, and developing an agricultural insurance system and social security network.

The report forecast a good harvest this year despite the severe drought in North China in early spring.

"The fast growing agriculture sector will play a vital role to help the country get through the financial crisis," said Yin Chengjie, former minister of agriculture.


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