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Supply-side reforms prompt changes in farming

Reporter: Guan Yang 丨 CCTV.com

12-21-2016 05:19 BJT

The annual rural work conference wraps up today in Beijing. In the world's most populous country, agriculture has always topped the central planning agenda. CCTV's Guan Yang finds out how recent supply-side reform has boosted agriculture in China's northeast. 

In March this year, China scrapped its decade-long stockpiling scheme for corn. Instead, the government subsidizes corn growers and allows the market to set prices. The move takes aim at ingrained farming habits, as part of the country's supply-side reform to improve agricultural efficiency. For corn growers, this was a big push to start making some changes.

"We planned to convert some corn-growing lands into wet fields for growing rice. But the upfront investments were too much to bear. We had to drill new wells, level the lands and build canals," said Nie Zhonghan, corn grower.

It is never easy to start over on something totally new. Just like many corn growers in China, the farmers in Xujia village didn't have the knowledge, the machinery, or most crucially the money to convert arable land from growing corn to ploughing other high-value added grains. Thanks to the local celebrity farmer Yu Huihuaim, who has kept pace with agricultural modernization, the plan is now feasible.

"At first, many corn growers had doubts about converting their land into other types of fields. Then, this past autumn when they saw the price of corn drop by nearly half, they came to me for help. And only by integrating those small plots of land and adopting modern farming, can the farmers secure their incomes," said corn grower Yu Huihuai.

For years, the supply of some agricultural products in China has failed to meet the changing demand, because when prices for some crops are guaranteed -- like corn -- why would farmers risk growing other things that have uncertain prices? 

The latest top-down efforts of supply-side reform have greatly helped ease grain surpluses as well as the financial burden of the central government, which has been obliged to stockpile crops at high prices to support farmers' incomes. And although Chinese farmers' disposable income per capita increased almost 10 percent last year, there is still a big gap compared to urban residents.

"Some farmers need to change their mentality on guaranteed prices and government farming subsidies, and market economy rules should be applied in agriculture as well," Yu said.

The supply-side reform in agriculture was once again emphasized at this year's central agriculture work conference. In the meantime, training for farmers, investments in technology, and modernization of farming methods will also increase the pace of change. 

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