Business / Industries

Sow today, reap tomorrow - the future of China's agriculture

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-02-03 16:57

BEIJING - For twelve years in a row, China's "No 1 Central Document" has focused on agriculture and rural issues.

The "No 1 Central Document" is the first major policy document released each year. Agriculture is a significant issue in the world's most populous nation, with problems including low farmer income, pollution and a lack of competitive agricultural companies.

Efforts have been made to increase farmers' incomes, but the gap between urban and rural incomes remains. Growth of rural incomes has outpaced that of urban dwellers since 2010, but nonetheless, Chinese villagers only earn about one third of city residents.

Without increased government investment in agriculture, tourism and other income sources for farmers combined with higher value agricultural products, hopes of reducing the gap will be in vain.

China has to feed about one fifth of world's population from less than 10 percent of the arable land. Environmental protection was never given enough weight in farming and over-exploitation of farmland must come to an end. Use of chemicals and fertilizers per hectare in China was once 70 percent higher than the world average, resulting in more than 40 percent of farmland being degraded. Protecting farmland is an uphill battle that China must win.

Many farmers in their 50s or 60s till plots of less than half an acre, while their children work in cities. Those seniors will soon quit farming and about 200 million rural people are expected to move into cities over the coming decades, so China has to develop large-scale, environmentally friendly farming, and must do it quickly.

A high percentage of China's population are employed in agriculture, but a short list of reputable agricultural businesses compares poorly with the United States and France. Innovation must play a bigger role in farming, and Chinese agricultural companies with global clout must be fostered.

A list of 32 points related to agriculture, rural areas and farmers was in the No 1 document released on Sunday, but implementation is the key. You have to sow today to reap tomorrow.

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