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Rocky road to rural reform

Updated: Jan 8,2015 9:57 AM     Xinhua

A rural work conference that vowed to push forward agricultural modernization through reform and innovation concluded in Beijing in late December.

The country made progress in rural development last year, with the 11th consecutive bumper harvest and an increase in farming income, which set the tone for the coming year, according to a statement released after the two-day conference.

“However, China is facing unprecedented challenges if it wants to achieve sustained and stable development in the agricultural sector,” said the statement. Challenges include rising agricultural production costs, impaired cultivation and limited arable land and fresh water.

Li Guoxiang, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said China’s agricultural production faces surging costs, pressure for the government to subsidize agriculture and resource and environmental constraints.

To solve the problems, China must accelerate agricultural modernization and raise quality and efficiency of agriculture, Zhu Lizhi, an expert with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, told Xinhua News Agency.

The statement said China would strive to transform the pattern of agricultural development, raise the output rate of the land and increase resource utilization rates to attain intensive and sustainable growth. Agricultural modernization is seen to be of great significance to stabilizing economic growth, adjusting structure and improving people’s livelihoods.

Agricultural modernization is the foundation and pillar for China’s modernization drive, but it is a prominent weak point at present, the statement said.

“Compared with fast-advancing urbanization, industrialization and informatization, our country’s agricultural modernization is lagging far behind, seriously impeding the synchronized development of the four aspects,” said Li.

Top policymakers at the meeting pledged to make more effort to speed up agricultural modernization in a bid to unleash farmer consumption potential and spur investment in rural infrastructure.