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Counsellor Liu Zhiren: Five Thoughts on Modern Agriculture in Chinese Counties

Source: Xinhua.net Date: 2016-09-28
The 6th National Conference on Modern Agriculture in Counties and the International Meeting on Agricultural Technological Exchanges took place in Yulin, Guangxi on September 26th. Counsellor Liu Zhiren of the State Council gave a speech at the conference. He said that China has accumulated many successful experiences and made great progress in modern agriculture in counties. But China also needs to learn from the lessons.

For several decades, Liu Zhiren was involved in China’s rural reform and has gained insights in this process. Based on his experience, he shared five thoughts on modern agriculture in Chinese counties. First, the top priority is to forge consensus on concepts and make a feasible roadmap. Without a plan and a roadmap, we will only pay lip service on agricultural modernization. What we need now is to translate words and plans into real actions.

Second, it is imperative to make industrial transformation in counties. Now is the best time to transform county economies. Transformation is about shifting from quantity-based expansion to improvement in quality and efficiency. I suggest economic upgrading top the agenda of counties. To develop county economies and modern agriculture, it is essential to encourage farmers to establish cooperatives, which is an important factor in modern agriculture.

Third, it is important to develop new industries. In the past few years, there have emerged new industries and new business formats in agriculture and rural areas, which are important supplements to agricultural modernization. New industries mainly include Internet+modern agriculture, organic agriculture and brand agriculture, as well as tourist agriculture. “There must be some transformation in operational and management systems. The 13th Five-Year Plan calls for agriculture-business integration. What does this mean? New business formats cannot only depend on farmers. There must be the involvement of businesses. There have already emerged cooperatives established by industrial and commercial businesses and farmers.”

Fourth, priority must be given to agricultural modernization in hilly areas. Most of the Chinese territory is hilly areas. “There are big farms in Heilongjiang Province, which are as modern as those in the United States. However, they are not the mainstream. It is still a tall order to develop agriculture in hilly areas. And there must be institutional arrangements for it.”

Fifth, China needs to learn the experience of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan in developing modern agriculture. “When I worked at the State Council’s Research Center for Rural Development, one of my jobs was to do comparative research into the agricultural sectors in China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. For several decades, I have maintained a keen interest in the agricultural sector of these places. Their experience can offer a lot to us as we modernize the agricultural sector in the hilly areas.”

Liu Zhiren believes that after 30 years of hard work, China has managed to feed its entire population. The new task at the moment is to improve food quality and safety. After more years of efforts, China will certainly achieve agricultural modernization.