Before attending the annual meeting of the Boao Forum for Asia, which opens on Saturday in the southern province of Hainan, President Hu Jintao inspected farms of the Li ethnic group in the island's southernmost region early this week and got to know the concerns of villagers firsthand.
Hu inquired about farmers' lives and learned from them the difficulties they faced.
President Hu Jintao chats with Huang Zhengguang, a farmer in the Ledong Li autonomous county in South China's Hainan Province. The president inspected farms in the province before attending the Boao Forum for China in Hainan, which starts toda. [Xinhua]
Huang Zhengguang, a farmer who has been growing cowpea and other high-yield vegetables in the Ledong Li ethnic autonomous county, told the president of his worries.
"Fertilizer prices have gone up rapidly and it is not easy to buy diesel in the market," Huang said.
"I understand your concerns," Hu said. "The government will solve your difficulties soon."
The central government has already allocated an additional 20.6 billion yuan ($2.94 billion) this year to subsidize farmers, Hu said.
Another farmer told the president pesticide had also become more costly. Some of the pesticides he bought were even discovered to be fake.
"Monitoring agricultural production material in the market should be strengthened. We cannot allow fake pesticides to hurt farmers' interests," Hu replied.
The president's visit to the autonomous county came amid farmers' incomes in the area rising significantly, fueled by the development of a high-yield, agricultural industry of banana, vegetable and rubber crops.
Farmer Huang and his wife, for example, earned 15,000 yuan last year by growing vegetables. Huang said his family will earn more money this year as they have contracted more land to grow their crops.
The Ledong Li autonomous county is itself a key area supported by government efforts to alleviate poverty.
The growth of the island's agricultural sector is the result of the 20 years following the formation of the Hainan special economic zone (SEZ).
Founded in 1988, Hainan is one of the five SEZs established since 1980. The others are Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Shantou and Xiamen, all in southern China.
Hainan SEZ will celebrate the anniversary of its founding later this month.
"Over the past two decades, Hainan's economic and social development has made remarkable progress," Hu said during a visit to an exhibition at the provincial museum on Monday marking the anniversary.
"The appearance of cities and villages has undergone profound changes. Practice shows the policy of setting up the SEZ in Hainan has been completely correct."
Hu also expressed his respect for the island's model workers, farmers, teachers and police who had made great contribution to Hainan's development.
"You have done extraordinarily well," Hu told them.
The president also revisited the State-level Yangpu Economic Zone in the northwest of the island. His last visit there was 12 years ago.
Hu said he was very happy to learn that Yangpu's economy grew by 60 percent last year from the previous year. The zone's import and export value also increased 213 percent year on year, official figures showed.
Hu added that Hainan should deepen reform, further implement the Scientific Outlook on Development policy and play a leading role in the country's reform and opening up.
He also expressed great concern over the island's environment, stressing that Hainan must promote a culture of conservation, save energy resources and protect its ecosystems.