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Government to upgrade farmer's skills
By Cui Ning/Cao Desheng (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-10-29 00:42

The central government will allocate 100 million yuan (US$12 million) each year over the next few years to help drive scientific development in Chinese counties and county-level areas.

State Councillor Chen Zhili Thursday made the remarks, calling on nationwide scientific departments to make all-out efforts to improve the financial situations of farmers by upgrading the farm produce processing industry.

"Regional governments must emphasize technological progress to propel economic development in counties or county-level areas," Chen said at a national conference for county-level scientific development which opened Thursday in Beijing.

More than 90 per cent of the country's total area and over 80 per cent of the population fall within China's 2,861 counties and county-level areas. Incomes of farmers in these areas are much lower than those in better developed regions, due to relatively poor technological levels, she said.

Enhancing scientific development in county-level areas is an effective way of fattening farmers' wallets, she said.

In the poor and remote Tianyang County of South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, for example, mango and vegetable farming is the main source of income for farmers.

Previously, it was difficult for farmers to sell fruit and vegetables due to backward planting technologies and a lack of market information, according to Wei Chunliang, an official of Tianyang county.

Over the past two years the county has set up a technological information centre, providing around-the-clock market information for the country's 50 large and medium-sized cities.

By logging onto the Internet, local farmer Wei Jianfeng has introduced six new fruit and vegetable varieties in his 8-hectare plot. The output value of Wei's fruit and vegetables reached 1 million yuan (US$120,000) last year.

Stimulated by Wei, the 3,500 mu (233 hectares) of tomatoes grown in the county last year were all sold to other provinces, increasing the per capita income of farmers by 310 yuan (US$37).

Minister of Science and Technology Xu Guanhua said a big technological divide exists between county-level areas and better developed cities.

Xu said his ministry will help bridge the gap by increasing funds and spreading updated technologies in backward areas.

Rural worker training

The Ministry of Construction Thursday pledged to take measures to improve the quality of labour in the construction field, particularly among migrant rural workers.

Technical training for rural workers in the construction field is a priority for the construction management authority since they have become the mainstay of the industry, said the ministry's Vice-Minister Liu Zhifeng.

Liu made the remarks at a National Construction Professionals Conference which opened Thursday in Beijing.

Because of the easy access to the building sector, rural labourers moving from the countryside to cities choose to earn a living in the building trade.

In 2003, the building industry took in more than 31 million rural workers. Taking into account those working for municipal engineering projects, property management and environmental sanitation, the number reaches more than 50 million.

However, Liu stressed, less than 10 per cent of these rural workers have received technical training.

The low quality of construction workers has influenced workplace safety and failed to ensure the quality of building projects, Liu said.

In the next five years, construction departments at various levels will be responsible for training 5 million front-line rural workers and 30,000 technicians and senior technicians, according to Liu.

They will also improve practice qualification management in the construction field and further strengthen the access system, Liu said.

Statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture indicate that, in the first three quarters, a total of 1.5 million rural labourers accepted technical training.

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