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Macro control boosts agricultural production
Updated: 2004-08-04 15:30

The 4.8 percent increase of China's summer wheat output this year put an end to the four-year summer grain decline, while farmers' income growth rate of 16.1 percent in the first half year was an eight-year high.

"Agricultural sectors have become the largest beneficiary of the State's macro-control policies, and a good summer harvest will facilitate government's efforts in enhancing macro-control policies," said Feng Huaisong, an official of the Ministry of Agriculture.

Since the second half of last year, while controlling the overheating of some economic sectors, the Chinese government has paced up its efforts to support sectors like agriculture, transport and energy.

"Solving problems facing agriculture, rural areas and farmers is a top priority in all government work this year," said Premier Wen Jiabao in his annual report on government work on NPC congress held in March.

To encourage farmers to plant more grains, the central government gave direct subsidies to crop growers. A total of 1.6 billion yuan (US$192.8 million) was given in 28 provincial regions for purchase of high-quality seeds since October in 2003, according to official statistics.

At the beginning of this year, the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party and the State Council issued the so-called No 1 circular, which contained a basket of new top policies aimed to raise farmers' income, among others to spur rural growth.

It was the first top-level decision -- specially targeting farmers' income -- since new China was founded in 1949. Agricultural tax rates would be slashed by one percentage point this year and taxes on special farm produce, except tobacco leaves,would be abolished in line with the document.

This rural tax axe may reduce farmers' burdens by 29.4 billion yuan (US$3.55 billion), according to rough estimation. To further implement the No 1 Document, 29 provincial regions across the country this year gave direct subsidies to farmers growing crops.

Some 600 million farmers are beneficiaries of the subsidy fund worth 11.6 billion yuan (US$1.4 billion) so far, figures show.

At the same time China's local governments are sparing no effort to clear development zones to make way for grain production.A report shows that by June this year, 3,763 out of 6,015 development zones across China have been revoked, involving land of 1,600 square kilometers, including 1,100 square kilometers retrieved for farmland.

In the first half of 2004, some 42,300 cases of illegal land use have been spotted, and 32,575 of them have been under official investigation.

The probes involved some 21,690 square kilometers of land, including 13,342 ha of farmland, and 1,431 ha of land has so far been recovered.

The government also set the minimum price level for grain purchase, so as to safeguard the interest of farmers. A series of favorable policies were implemented to help farmers to buy fertilizers and agricultural machinery at low prices.

All these supportive policies including direct subsidies and tax reduction have encouraged the world's greatest number of farmers to grow more grain.

Official statistics show the total area under grain crops increased after five years of decline. The area sown to grain crops is predicted to expand one percent over last year.

According to figures from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the primary industry including agriculture, forestry, pasture and fishery grew 4.9 percent to account for 617.7 billion yuan (US$70 billion) in the first half of this year.

The central government is expected to use over 150 billion yuan (US$18.12 billion) to aid agricultural sectors this year, hitting a record high in history, official sources said.

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