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Government to help boost grain production
( 2003-10-22 01:27) (China Daily)

Government has pledged to help boost the country's grain production capacity and increase farmers' income amid falling wheat output.

The promise was made during a State Council conference chaired by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao Tuesday.

The country's wheat output dropped for the fourth consecutive year to its lowest level since the mid-1980s, according to a report from the State Cereal and Oil Information Centre issued early this month.

The report said that by the end of this year's harvest, China's wheat output will have reached only 86 million tons, a year-on-year drop of 5 per cent.

The information centre attributed the reduction in wheat output to the shrinking cropping area. Only 22 million hectares were planted with grain this year, the smallest area since 1950, and 7.9 per cent down from 2002.

The conference concluded that government at various levels must do more to support major grain producing areas and allow farmers to take the initiative.

They should also inject more into agriculture and improve farming infrastructure.

The conference reiterated the government's stance that agricultural tax rates must be reduced and grain prices increased to alleviate the burden on farmers.

And it highlighted the importance of improving the industry's structure. Participants at the forum said the solution lay in expanding the production capacity of major grain areas, rather than simply decreasing the planted area of grain.

They also stressed the need to promote agricultural science and technologies so farmers can improve the quality and quantity of their grain crops.

The conference called for those who illegally confiscated or developed farmland to be punished.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, area planted with wheat in the coming winter, which will be harvested in summer next year, is likely to fall 3.8 per cent from last winter.

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