Farmers′ incomes by hcj


									                          Farmers´ incomes


The comparatively sluggish development of agriculture and the slow
increase of farmers' incomes have emerged as major problems facing China
today. But changes have taken place in some rural areas where reforms
have been carried out. What are these changes and how are farmers feeling
about them?

China is a large agricultural nation with farmers making up the
overwhelming majority of the population. To increase farmers' incomes
bears not only on the vital interests of China's hundreds of millions of
farmers and on economic development and social stability in the countryside,
but also on the overall prospects for economic and social development. The
development of agricultural and rural infrastructure is being accelerated and
everything possible is being done to create conditions for increasing rural
incomes. For some farmers, life is getting better.

In 2003 China's per capita GDP crossed the US$1000 threshold, indicating
that Chinese people are nearing the country's goal of building a well-off
society. According to international experience, when per-capita GDP
surpasses US$1,000, consumption patterns are modified to stress
discretionary spending, with past luxuries becoming residents' daily
necessities. But this figure also includes the 60% of farmers who are still
living a comparatively poor life. There will be real changes in farmers' quality
of life only if their per capita GDP reaches US$1000.

The Beijing West Railway Station got busy right after Spring Festival. For the
family to earn more money, many farmers hastily came to Beijing to look for
work. They are hoping to achieve higher incomes in the new year.

Liu Yunxian, migrant worker, from a village in Hubei province had the job of
keeping files and doing the cleaning in the office. To make a good impression
on his boss, Liu stayed on the construction site during Spring Festival rather
than going home for a family reunion. His brother and sister who were
working in Tianjin went back home.

Liu Yunxian's family situation is typical of many farmers in China. From 1997,
China's agriculture began to slow down after a period of rapid growth since
the beginning of economic reforms in the late 1970s. Economic growth in
some of the major grain producing areas almost came to a standstill. 42
percent of farmers suffered from a reduction in income. This had a great
impact on the overall national economy.
Shi Yi is a farmer from the Shunyi district of Beijing. He is now running a
stud-boar farm and has many customers every day. He used to rely on grain
production for a living, but because of his low income, he didn't even have
any electric appliances at home.

In a large agricultural country like China, the low income of farmers is no
small matter. Government bodies at all levels attach great importance to
this issue. In order to increase farmers' incomes, some regions have
adopted a series of measures to suit local conditions.

With encouragement and support from the local government, towns and
villages in Shunyi District carried out agricultural restructuring. The single
production mode was shifted to combined grain production, aquaculture and
processed goods to form a shareholding system. The farmers are both
workers and shareholders. In addition to pay for their work, they also get a
handsome share of the dividends.

Besides agricultural restructuring, many towns and villages also made great
efforts to develop the manufacturing and service industries as an important
way of increasing incomes for surplus farmhands. Gao Liying Town in the
Shunyi district of Beijing has been successful in this regard.

Chen Yueqin used to be an ordinary farmer in the village. Several years ago
her annual income was less than 1000 RMB, but this amount increased
greatly after she became a worker in a food processing company in the

Like Liu Xianyun, Shi Yi and Chen Yueqin, many farmers in China are seeking
ways to increase their incomes on their own or with the assistance of local
government. However, increasing farmers' incomes is undeniably a
long-term problem. It must be combined with rural, agricultural and
farmer-oriented reforms in taxes, education and health as well as land.

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