China plans to strengthen poverty reduction efforts, safeguard national food security and improve income levels and living conditions in rural areas, according to the first policy document of the year released by the central leadership on Feb 19.
This is the 16th consecutive year in which the document, jointly issued by the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council, has focused on the development of agriculture and rural affairs.
“This year and the next mark a decisive period for the country to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all aspects, and many tough tasks in association with agriculture, rural areas and rural residents, must be fulfilled,” the document said.
Han Changfu, minister of agriculture and rural affairs, said on Feb 20 the document highlights the urgency and significance of ramping up poverty relief efforts in extremely impoverished regions and to eradicate loopholes that hamper a full coverage of social services for poor, rural families.
“Also, it’s crucial to develop industries to increase the income of poor rural residents and provide them with more employment opportunities,” he said, adding that in this way, people could be prevented from slipping into poverty again.
Sufficient food supply is also highlighted, Han said, as reflected in sections of the document, such as ensuring that grain planting areas remains stable at 110 million hectares and keeping arable land area above 120 million hectares.
“We aim to hit the target of creating another 53 million hectares of high-quality farmland by 2020,” he said.
The country will also strive to create a better environment for rural residents through a series of strategies that focus on different aspects, including improved sewage facilities.
Han added that the striking gap in terms of social services and infrastructure between rural and urban areas is still an issue in the lives of many rural residents.
“Concerted efforts will be dedicated to improving a range of infrastructure facilities, covering electricity, housing, logistics, information technology and more, and to enhancing public services in aspects of education, healthcare and social security,” he said.