NPC, CPPCC Annual Sessions 2009
Special Report: Global Financial Crisis
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao delivers a
government work report during the opening meeting of the Second Session of
the 11th National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People
in Beijing, capital of China, March 5, 2009. (Xinhua/Fan
¡¡BEIJING, March 5 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao pledged Thursday to
increase spending on agriculture by over 20 percent, hike minimum grain purchase
prices, and expand the country's grain production.
Addressing nearly 3,000 lawmakers at the Second
Session of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC), Wen said in his government
work report that central government spending on agriculture, farmers and the
rural areas would total 716.1 billion yuan (104.6 billion U.S. dollars) in 2009,
a year-on-year increase of 120.6 billion yuan.
The money would be used in expanding direct
agricultural subsidies to farmers by 20 billion yuan to a total of 120 billion
yuan, popularizing agricultural science and technologies, and improving
infrastructure facilities such as roads and water conservancy projects, and
upgrading low and medium-yield farmland.
Greater priority would be given to major grain-producing counties in implementing the policies and measures supporting grain production, Wen said. More financial rewards would be provided to major projects for industrializing grain production.
Graphics shows focus on five areas of agriculture of the Chinese government's work in 2009, according to the government work report of China released on March 5, 2009. (Xinhua/Zhang Liyun)
The country would also "significantly" raise minimum
purchase prices of wheat and rice by 0.22 yuan and 0.26 yuan per kilogram
respectively, and keep the prices of agricultural products stable at a
reasonable level to encourage farmers to grow more, Wen said.
"We will effectively keep the area planted in grain
crops stable, focus on increasing the yield per unit area and optimizing the
variety mix, and increase the country's grain production capacity by 50 million
tons," the premier told the legislators.
China, with a population of 1.3 billion, is faced
with severe challenges in safeguarding grain security due to rising living
standards, decreasing arable land, water shortages and climate change.
Slowdown in economic growth rate due to the impact of
the global financial crisis has become a major problem affecting the overall
situation, Wen said in his report.
"It has become more difficult to maintain steady
agricultural development and keep rural incomes growing", he admitted.
Calling agriculture the "foundation of the economy",
Wen said the government would do everything in its power to keep the total
amount of arable land above the red line of 120 million hectares.
Graphics shows the five measures to
comprehensively stengthen the work related to agriculture, rural areas and
farmers, according to the government work report of China released on
March 5, 2009. (Xinhua/Zheng Yue)
premier pledged to ensure the existing land system remain stable and unchanged
for a long time to come, and better protect the land use of farmers, including
migrant workers who are away from their home villages.
Lai Xiuhua, chief of Hutian Village in the southern
province of Guangdong, said she was glad to know the planned agricultural
More than 1,000 rice farmers lived in Lai's village,
and their income in 2008 averaged around 4,000 yuan, said Lai, who was here to
attend the annual session of NPC.
"The majority of our income did not come from grain
production, but from the government's direct subsidies for grain farmers," she
said, "The three minimum grain purchase price hikes by the government last year
"So it's really good to know that the government will
increase the direct agricultural subsidies, and raise the minimum grain purchase
prices again this year," she said.
Steady growth of rural incomes was also one of the
major targets Premier Wen set for this year's national economic and social
Rural per capita net income reached 4,761 yuan last
year, up by8 percent in real terms, compared with the urban per capita annual
disposable income of 15,781 yuan.
The premier pledged in the government work report
that the country would increase farmers' incomes in a variety of ways.
The country would vigorously develop modern
agriculture with distinctive local features, support the processing and
marketing of agricultural products, develop service and manufacturing industries
in rural areas and accelerate the development of small towns, Wen said.
He also pledged to intensify efforts to alleviate
poverty in the countryside, adding that a new poverty line would be adopted and
all low-income rural residents would be covered by the poverty relief policy
with grants increased to 1,196 yuan per person on average.
The policy, which would cover more than 40 million
people, marked a new stage in China's efforts to reduce poverty through
development, he said.
"Under the current economic situation, the increase
of farmers' incomes is essential to China's policy to expand domestic demand,"
said Zhang Ning, director of the agriculture office of the Sichuan provincial
"The rural population would become a market with the
biggest potential for consumption only when they have more access to disposable
currency," he said.
Of China's total 1.3 billion population, more than
900 million are farmers.
Steady growth of rural incomes would also help bridge
disparities in development between urban and rural areas, thus contribute to the
social harmony, he said.
Graphics shows central government
budgetary spending on agriculture, rural areas and farmers increased by
37.9% in 2008 according to government work report of China on March 5,