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China Daily Website

Food security tops rural development tasks

Updated: 2013-12-25 19:50
( Xinhua)

BEIJING -- China has stressed the high priority of food security in its agricultural modernization and urged better arable land use and rural management.

The country reiterated the importance of securing food quantity and quality in the process of deepening rural reforms, according to a statement issued after a central rural work conference that ended on Tuesday.

"The bowls of the Chinese, in any situation, must rest soundly in our own hands. Our bowls should be filled mainly with Chinese grain. Only when a country is basically self-sufficient in food can it take the initiative in food security and grasp the overall situation for economic and social growth," the statement said.

The statement showed that ensuring sufficient quantity and reliable quality of food supply has become China's national food safety strategy, said Li Guoxiang, researcher with the Rural Development Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

He said the development of a more professional, intensive, organized and open agricultural business mechanism will help ensure food safety and improve farmers' income.

Nie Fengying, researcher with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, told the Shanghai Securities News that China is still troubled by the huge labor transfer from rural to urban areas and low enthusiasm for farming due to cheap grain prices, as the conference especially highlighted the food security issue.

The statement said that more efforts should be made to link agricultural subsidies with grain output to ensure farmers profit from grain planting and key production bases are active in encouraging farmers to plant grain.

Zheng Fengtian, an agriculture professor at Renmin University, told the newspaper that this indicates more subsidies for planting grain and higher procurement grain prices through future policies.

China has set a red-line guarantee that arable land shall never shrink to less than 1.8 billion mu (120 million hectares), and that rural land will be owned collectively by the peasantry, the "soul" of the rural basic management system.

According to the statement, collective land should be contracted by rural families, and no other party can substitute for the rural family status in contracting land. The statement said the right to contract collective land belongs to rural families, no matter how the contract rights are transferred.

Li said he believes that the stress on the public ownership of farmland explains the government's position on protecting farmland property rights,while diversifying management will ease market circulation of public farmland and increase farmers' property income.

Zheng also said the emphasis on contract rights is in line with offering more property rights for farmers as urged in the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee last month, which showed the country's resolve to improve land circulation.

Meanwhile, the government has vowed to improve agricultural product quality and food safety.

According to the statement, the environment in areas where agricultural products are grown will be improved. If farmland or water are seriously polluted, the area should be taken out of use, and supervision should be stepped up on food safety.

To ensure food safety, more social capital should be introduced into agriculture to nurture more reliable brands, which are more competent than farmers in producing quality food, said Yi Peng, a researcher from the China Center for Urban Development under the National Development and Reform Commission.

The government has also pledged to improve the well-being of the peasantry and take care of children, women and the elderly left behind in villages, many of whom may have families working in cities.

Yi said that improvement of the status of farmers depends on their income growth, which depends on overall urbanization, agricultural mechanization and social capital investment.

The smooth running of a village relies on an organized and efficient village committee, said Li Guoxiang, and they should play a better role in offering guidance on agricultural development.