CHINA> National
Challenges ahead to ensure farmers earning - official
By Tan Yingzi, Hu Yinan and Du Wenjuan (
Updated: 2009-03-05 16:42

The government's ambition to ensure agricultural development will meet more challenges as risks mount due to unstable prices of agricultural products and uncertain weather conditions, an official warned Thursday in Beijing.

Chen Xiwen, director of the office of the Central Leading Group on Rural Work, said the severe drought, which hit most areas in the country earlier this year, has cast a shadow on realizing the targets of "stabilizing agricultural production and increasing the farmers' income."

Chen said the farmers will be dealt more blows if grain prices continue to decline as they return from closed factories in export-oriented coastal areas as a result of the global financial crisis.

Related readings:
Another $17.55b to boost agriculture
Expert: 'Grim times for rural earnings'
China vows rural support amid slowdown

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao declares Thursday in his government work report to the top legislature that the central government is to spend 716.1 billion yuan ($104.6 billion) on agriculture, farmers and the rural areas in 2009, a year-on-year increase of 120.6 billion yuan ($17.6 billion).

The money will go to rural public facilities construction, agricultural subsidies to farmers, subsidies for the purchase of agricultural machinery and tools, and popularizing agricultural science and technologies.

The government faced challenging tasks of providing job opportunities for returned migrant workers in rural areas at a grim global climate of slumping grain prices and resources.

Chen also said the government will plough ahead with every measure possible to enhance the rural development which is essential to meeting the country's economic growth targets in 2009.

The country's top leadership is mulling more investment channels into its vast rural areas to benefit the residents there. Agriculture Minister Sun Zhengcai promised earlier to make full use of historic subsidies worth 10 billion yuan ($1.46 billion) to purchase agricultural machinery this year.

The National Development and Reform Commission, the State's top planner, has also announced a record 16-percent increase in funds earmarked for the purchase of grain this year.

The subsidies for farmers amounted to 4 billion yuan in 2008, doubling the number in 2007.