Agriculture A Key Area For NPC

CHINA - The report of the recent National People's Congress (NPC) highlights several areas of interest for food production.
calendar icon 18 March 2010
clock icon 7 minute read

Official sources carry the full text of the Report on the Work of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), which was delivered by Chairman Wu Bangguo of the NPC Standing Committee on 9 March for review at the Third Session of the 11th NPC and adopted on 14 March 2010.

Mr Wu covered the major work of the past year, which included a focus on core issues, emphasising key points, and achieving positive results in promoting the implementation of the major decisions and arrangements of the CPC Central Committee.

Food safety is vital to people's health and lives and has drawn widespread attention from deputies to the NPC and all sectors of society. The Standing Committee attaches great importance to work in this area. Shortly after the Law on Food Safety was passed in February 2009, the Standing Committee began to check compliance with it throughout China and urged relevant departments to promptly formulate, sort out or improve supporting regulations, quickly draw up sound food safety standards, set up a risk monitoring and assessment mechanism for food safety, further improve the oversight and supervision system, strengthen food safety oversight capabilities, exercise scientific oversight and supervision of food from production to sale, and strive to improve the food safety situation.

In addition, he said, ompliance with the Stockbreeding Law had been checked and important suggestions were made concerning the prevention and control of animal diseases, prevention of drastic fluctuations in the price of livestock products, focus on regulating the use of clenobuterol hydrochloride and sulpha-drug additives, support for the safe disposal of infected livestock and poultry, and the full utilisation of resources.

China's Ministry of Agriculture gives details of three areas of focus for this coming year:

  1. Overall requirements by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council on work related to agriculture and rural areas for this year
    In 2009, a tough year for the development of agriculture and rural economy, a good momentum was maintained and reinforced despite all the difficulties, thanks to the substantial efforts made by all departments and local governments in implementing the decisions and plans made by the Party Central Committee and the State Council and to the hard work of farmers. Another bumper harvest for grains was secured with a total output of 530.8 million tons, registering the sixth year of increase in a row; farmers' per-capita net income, 8.5% higher than the previous year in real terms at 5153 yuan, recorded the 6th year of consecutive increase, too. All those achievements contributed to the strategic advantage China gained in countering the global financial crisis and laid foundations for continued economic growth, people's well-being improvement and social stability.
    In the face of new situations and challenges, the No. 1 Document of 2010 of CPC Central Committee stipulates that the goals of this year's work related to agriculture and rural areas is to prevent downturn on grain production, farmers' income and rural development momentum; the overall requirement is to promote balanced development of urban and rural areas – cornerstone of building of a well-off society in an all-round way, improve farmers' livelihood — an important component in adjusting national income distribution pattern, expand rural demand – a key measure of driving domestic demand, develop modern agriculture – an important task of transforming the economic growth pattern, and build a new socialist countryside and promote urbanization – a long-lasting driver for steady and relatively fast economic growth; the guideline is to ensure supply with stable grain production, benefit people with income growth, facilitate balanced development with reform, and bolster a good momentum with reinforced foundations. By unswervingly putting emphasis on work related to agriculture and rural areas, we will continue to make new contribution to the overall reform, development and stability. According to the overall plan of the central government, the Ministry of Agriculture states that, in 2010, it should maintain stable production of major agricultural products such as grains, optimize the structure of the agriculture and rural economy, strive to build modern agriculture support system, accelerate agricultural research progress, promote rural reform and institutional innovation, advance the building of a new socialist countryside, and make all-out efforts to ensure the following: 1) a grain output of over 500 million tons; 2) a growth of farmers income at over 6%, and prevent 1) regional outbreak of major animal epidemic diseases, and 2) major accidents related to the quality and safety of agricultural products, so as to consolidate and reinforce the current good momentum in the development of agriculture and rural areas and provide a powerful bolster for the overall economic and social development.

  2. Increased investment from the government in agriculture and rural areas
    Following the guidance of the No. 1 Document, the Central Economic Work Conference and the Central Rural Work Conference in 2010 and responding to the requirement of continued increase in total value and steady growth in proportion, the central budget of 2010 is featured by prioritized and better-structured investment in fixed assets with more focus on projects related to farmers' livelihood and rural infrastructure. Investment in initiatives regarding agriculture, farmers and rural areas totals up to 93.66 billion yuan. Special supports will be given to the following two aspects:
    First, rural livelihood project worth 49.5 billion yuan, including safe drinking water project, power grid project, road construction project, biogas project, extension project on renovating rural dilapidated houses, nomads settlement project in minority areas, small-scale hydropower projects, rural postal service project, and schistosomiasis prevention and control in agriculture and forestry areas, to name a few.
    Second, agricultural infrastructure and service system building worth 44.16 billion yuan, including large-scale water-saving improvement in irrigation areas, increasing grain output by an incremental 50 million tons, agricultural technical service system, animal epidemics prevention system, farm produce quality and safety inspection and testing system, food quality and safety inspection and testing system, grain and oil storage facility, returning the reclaimed land to forest, grazing-stop for grassland rehabilitation, standard-based swine and dairy cattle farms, plant protection projects, seed and animal variety improvement prevention, fishery administration and fishery harbor, conservation tillage, grassroots agriculture technology extension network, farm produce wholesale market, grassland fire prevention, oil and sugar production base, demonstration base for water-efficient dry-land farming, and Xinjiang cotton base, etc. Construction of those facilities will further improve conditions for agricultural production, and enhance comprehensive productivity of agriculture.

  3. Improve agricultural subsidy system
    In 2009, the central budget allocated 19 billion yuan as the direct subsidy for grain growers, 75.6 billion yuan as comprehensive subsidy on farm production means, 19.85 billion yuan to subsidize improved varieties, and 13 billion yuan to subsidize farm machinery procurement, which played an active role to incentivize farmers in grain production.
    The central government will continue subsidy for grain growers in 2010. In principle, subsidy will be directly distributed to farmers engaged in grain production, and determined as appropriate by the provincial government; establish dynamic adjustment system for comprehensive subsidy for agricultural production means, promptly arrange fund for subsidy along with price changes in production means such as fertilizer and diesel following the principle of “balance subsidy with price, make dynamic adjustment, and allow only for subsidy increase but not reduction”, to provide reasonable compensation on increased cost on production means. On Feb 4, central budget already allocated funding worth 86.7 billion yuan on the two subsidies for 2010 to the localities, which will be directly transmitted to farmers before spring sowing. In terms of subsidy on improved varieties, subsidies will be delivered on rice, wheat, corn, cotton, soybean in the Northeast and Inner Mongolia, as well as rapeseed in 10 provinces along the Yangtze River, Xinyang in Henan Province, and Hanzhong and Ankang in Shaanxi Province – 10 Yuan per mu on early rice, wheat, corn, soybean and rape, and 15 yuan for semi-late and late rice, and cotton. Subsidies on rice, corn and rape will be directly delivered in cash, As for wheat, soybean and cotton, farmers can enjoy subsidized price upon concentrated bidding, or receive cash subsidy, which may be determined by provincial government in line with local conditions; at the same time, the central government will in 2010 further expand coverage of subsidies on seed potato production, mobilize subsidy on improved highland barley varieties in Tibetan region, and introduce subsidy on improved peanut varieties in some peanut producing regions. In terms of subsidies on the purchase of farm machineries, the subsidy program will be extended to all agricultural/pastoral counties (farms). The subsidy will be at 30% of machinery purchase price, and not exceed 50,000 yuan for each unit of machinery. The subsidy will cover 180 items of 45 groups under 12 categories, while local government may add discretionary 20 items as appropriate. On March 1, the central government earmarked 28.6 billion yuan for the subsidy on improved varieties and on the purchase of farm machinery, to meet the needs of spring production. (provided by the Department of Industry Policy and Law, MOA)

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