BEIJING — China will step up reforms and innovation to speed up agricultural modernization in 2015, according to a key policy document released by the Party and government on Feb 1.
As the Chinese economy, under the “new normal,” shifts from high-speed to medium-to-high-speed growth, it has become a key issue to continue consolidating the position of agriculture as the foundation of the economy and to further increase farmers’ income, said the document.
The “No 1 Central Document” refers to the first major policy document of each year released by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council.
This is the 12th consecutive year in which the document has focused on agriculture and rural issues.
The document listed 5 aspects and 32 points for detailed government work on reforms and tasks related to the “three rural issues”, agriculture, rural areas and farmers.
The document highlighted the challenges facing China’ s agricultural sector, including surging production cost, shortage of agricultural resources, excessive exploitation and worsening pollution.
According to the document, China will strive to transform the development mode of agriculture, boost policies that benefit farmers, push forward the building of new socialist countryside, deepen rural reforms and strengthen rule of law in dealing with rural issues.
This year’s document put more emphasis on “strengthening reform and innovation,” compared to the one of 2014, Zhu Lizhi, a research fellow with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences told Xinhua.
China’s agricultural modernization is expected to be accelerated with the help of the new policy document, Zhu added.
Highlighting the role of agriculture, the document said a strong agricultural sector is the prerequisite of a strong China.
It urged accelerating the transformation of agricultural development mode.
Instead of mainly pursuing high output and relying on resources consumption, China should put equal emphasis on quantity, quality and benefits, and attach importance to competitiveness, technological innovation and sustainable growth, it said.
The document urged making the transition as quickly as possible.
The goal is to blaze a modern agriculture development path featuring high efficiency, product safety, resource saving and environment friendliness, said the document.
To transform the development mode, the document calls for deepening agricultural restructuring, raising the quality and safety levels of agricultural products, strengthening the role of science and technological innovation, and innovating the circulation patterns of farm produce.
China’s current way of cultivation has over-exploited the fertility of the farmland and the unsustainable mode is coming to an end, said Zhu.
The second major task is to boost farmers’ income.
China will increase investment in the agriculture sector and the countryside, boost the effectiveness of agricultural subsidy policies, improve the pricing mechanism for farm produce and enhance supporting services, said the document.
“These measures will further activate rural resources and help farmers to increase their income,” said Dang Guoying, a senior researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).
The third task is to accelerate the building of new socialist countryside.
The government will boost rural infrastructure building, raise public service levels in rural areas, improve rural environment, and encourage more social capital investment in rural development.
The introduction of social capital will play an important role, said CASS researcher Li Guoxiang.
The fourth major task is to deepen rural reforms.
More efforts will be made to establish a new-style agricultural management system, accelerate reforms of rural collective property rights system, steadily push forward pilot reforms of rural land system, carry out rural financial system reforms, and deepen water conservancy and forestry reforms.
It urged guiding land management rights to flow in an orderly way and raising the scale of agricultural production.
Rural reforms will reinvigorate the countryside by awakening the “sleeping” resources like farmland and capital and making them flow in an orderly and reasonable manner, said Ye Xingqing, a researcher with the Development Research Center of the State Council.
Fifthly, The document calls for improving agricultural and rural legal system to strengthen the rule of law in dealing with issues such as protection of rural property rights, regulation of rural market and rural reforms.
The document for the first time noted the importance of rule of law and it is the strengthened rule of law that will ensure rural reforms be carried out smoothly, said Zheng Fengtian, an agriculture professor at Renmin University of China.