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Report: Agricultural situation improves
By Meng Yan (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-08-27 02:09

Vice-Premier Hui Liangyu said Thursday China's grain production and farmers' incomes had both witnessed a favourable turn.

"Production of summer grain crops and early rice has reversed the negative trend witnessed in the past few years," Hui said at a meeting of the Standing Committee of the 10th National People's Congress.

He told legislators about the measures the State Council had taken to promote rural development and improve the livelihood of farmers.

Lawmakers also heard a report Thursday on the implementation of this year's national plan for economic and social development, delivered by Ma Kai, minister of the State Development and Reform Commission.

Ma said China had realized a gross domestic product of 5.9 trillion yuan (US$711 billion) in the first half of this year, an increase of 9.7 per cent.

Supporting Hui, Ma said China had a good summer grain harvest this year with a production volume of 101.05 billion kilograms, an increase of 4.8 per cent.

Rural residents' per capita cash income had increased by 10.9 per cent in the first half of this year, Hui said, adding that the country's farmers had not witnessed double-digit growth in their incomes for many years.

The vice-premier said restructuring in agriculture and the rural economy had also made new progress, improper use of arable land had virtually been stopped, and health, education and science and technology had developed quickly in rural areas.

Hui attributed the concrete changes to a series of measures taken by the State Council to increase food production and farmers' incomes.

He said the central government had offered subsidies to farmers who grow crops and buy improved varieties of seeds and farm machinery. Farmers can get a minimum price for their grain in major production areas of a certain crops to protect them from market fluctuations. The government had also stabilized the price of the means of agricultural production.

Hui said farmers in Northeast China's Heilongjiang and Jilin provinces had been exempted from paying agricultural tax on a trial basis. Agricultural tax had been reduced by 3 per cent in 11 major grain production areas including North China's Hebei Province.

The central government has also stepped up spending on rural poverty reduction, the comprehensive development of agriculture and the improvement of the animal epidemic prevention system.

Hui said the government had tightened the management of arable land and strengthened the protection of rural migrant workers in cities.

The vice-premier pledged the government would continue to promote food production and stabilize the price of the means of production and consumer goods in rural areas.

He said the government would continue to promote its action plan on organic food, enhance the quality inspection of agricultural products and tighten the management and supervision of the use of fertilizer.

He also vowed to increase infrastructure construction in rural areas, provide farmers with more urban employment opportunities, support the battle against rural poverty, enhance land protection and promote rural financial reform.

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