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China strengthens fundamental role of agriculture
( 2003-11-30 10:14) (Xinhua)

The three-day Central Economic Work Conference which ended Saturday stressed that the fundamental role of agriculture should always be upheld with more efforts to be made in protecting farmland and raising farmers' income.

The annual conference, held in Beijing and addressed by Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, mapped out guidelines for the nation's economic development in 2004.

"It has been a consistent strategy of the Chinese leadership for the last three generations to strengthen the fundamental role of agriculture and pay close attention to and conscientiously resolve the issues relating to agriculture, rural development and rural population," the meeting said, noting that the strategy must be carried on unswervingly.

In an effort to ensure the fundamental role of agriculture, great importance must be attached to protecting farmland, increasing grain production, safeguarding the interests of grain production areas and farmers, and raising farmers' income.

"Resolute efforts must be made to stop illegal occupation of farmland for non-agricultural uses," according to the meeting, which also stressed that agricultural structure should be readjusted and optimized, the achievements of returning farmland to woodland should be consolidated so as to better plan agricultural production in different regions.

More government input should be made in agricultural infrastructure, especially in major grain production areas, to improve the farming and living conditions of farmers, the meeting said.

More efforts should be made for the spread of agricultural technologies, so as to upgrade the volume and quality of farm produce and promote the competitiveness of farm products, it said.

Reforms should be deepened on rural tax system and farm product circulation system to relieve the heavy burdens on farmers. At the same time poverty alleviation mechanism should be further improved, the meeting said.

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