Wen stresses protection of farmers' rights

Updated: 2011-12-28 07:57


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BEIJING - Premier Wen Jiabao said on Tuesday that China should strive to promote agricultural modernization and protect farmers' rights to boost the development of rural areas.

As a country with a large population, agricultural modernization is equally as important as urbanization and industrialization to China, Wen said at the annual central conference on rural work that opened on Tuesday in Beijing.

Any slight failure in agriculture will hamper the country's economic development and social stability, he said.

He said more efforts should be done to protect farmers' rights in property, income distribution, employment, social security and public service.

Wen also stressed that after decades of rapid growth that was underwritten by farmland taken for relatively little compensation, it was time for China to tilt in favor of the farmers.

"We should recognize that our country's level of economic development has risen far, and we can no longer sacrifice farmers' land property rights for the sake of lowering the costs of industrialization and urbanization.

"We must, and also have the conditions to, greatly increase the share of gains that go to farmers from enhancing the value of land," said Wen.

The central government subsidized more than 140 billion yuan ($22 billion) to farmers who grow grains, according to Wen.

The meeting is expected to deliberate on and specify policies such as boosting grain production, raising the minimum State purchasing prices of grain and increasing subsidies to grain growers in 2012, analysts said.

Policymakers also prioritized work concerning farmers, agriculture and the rural sector and increasing supplies of farm produce next year.

Despite natural disasters that frequently hit the country this year, China's grain output reported an eighth consecutive year of growth. Its national grain production hit 571.2 million tons in 2011, up 4.5 percent from a year earlier.

Meanwhile, farmers' incomes also posted relatively fast expansion for eight straight years.