Shanghai farmers topping income league
SHANGHAI: Farmers' per capita disposable income in the municipality rose 10 per cent last year, placing it top in the country.
Averaging over 7,300 yuan (US$883), it had the highest growth rate since 1997, the Shanghai Municipal Agricultural Commission (SAC) disclosed on Friday.
Nationwide farmers income in 2004 was forecast to be around 3,000 yuan (US$360), an increase of 15 per cent over 2003, according to a survey by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).
Farmers in Beijing Municipality earned an average 6,000 yuan (US$725) in the first 10 months of last year, according to the Beijing Municipal Agricultural Commission. The annual figure is unavailable.
But the figures do not represent an increase in returns from farming or agriculture.The bulk of Shanghai farmers earnings, approximately 5,720 yuan (US$692) last year, came from employment in non-agricultural sectors, such as township enterprises. With the remainder coming from grain production, social security , land leasing, sub-letting of housing and compensation for land appropriation.
Earnings from social security benefits and property assets both increased by 30 per cent over 2003 to reach 440 yuan (US$53) and 290 yuan (US$35) respectively.
"The substantial share of income from non-agricultural activities should be attributed to the measures taken by the municipal government encouraging farmers to raise their income through multiple sources," said Du Xiaoqiang, a spokesman for the SAC.
Nationally, more than half of farmers' income in 2004 came from grain production and livestock farming, according to research carried out by Li Guoxiang of the CASS.
Some 550,000 farmers in Shanghai who lost their land because of rural urbanization are covered by the city's rural social security system. This entitles every farmer of pensionable age to a monthly pension of up to 370 yuan (US$45). The pension grows annually.
Over 150 million yuan (US$18 million) was paid out last year in pension benefits, covering as many as 300,000 farmers in the municipality.
Those working for collectively-owned farms were encouraged to become shareholders so as to obtain financial gains.
In Hongwu Village of Minhang District, shareholders on average held 49,700 yuan (US$6,017) worth of shares, which generated up to 10 per cent returns.