by Xinhua writers Xu Feng and Zhan Tingting
BEIJING, Feb. 4 (Xinhua) -- As the owner of one of the largest family farms in Xuancheng City, Anhui Province, Zan Xiaoma has been both elated and deflated by his farmland.
Through planting rice on some 2,000 mu (133 hectares) he rents from those who abandoned farming to seek fortunes in the cities, Zan pockets over 1 million yuan (164,000 U.S. dollars) every year. Profit notwithstanding, his large-scale farming has reached its limit as he lacks funds and confidence to expand his business further.
"Financial support does not come easily for big family farms," Zan said. "Besides, I don't dare invest much in infrastructure as my leases with other farmers are usually only for 5 years. Nobody can assure me as to what will happen when the leases expire," he added.
With new rural reform to be rolled out soon, Zan sees solutions to his problems and dreams of a bigger fortune still.
China's rural reform started in 1978 in a village of Anhui, with the introduction of the household contract responsibility system, which ended communal farming. Agricultural productivity significantly increased when farmers got their own contracted land.
Unlike the bottom-up system of 36 years ago, progress today needs more planning at the top, said Wang Weiguo, a law professor at China University of Political Science and Law.
After more than three decades of breakneck economic expansion, China's urban-rural divide is alarming, a problem China's leadership is addressing through a more fair land policy.