Key meeting outlines China's tasks for 2024 rural development
  ·  2023-12-22  ·   Source: Xinhua News Agency

Rice is harvested in Daoxian County, central China's Hunan Province, on October 14 (XINHUA)

In a tone-setting meeting that concluded on December 20, China specified moves and tasks to advance rural revitalization across the board and boost the modernization of the countryside in the year ahead.

High on the agenda of the central rural work conference were the issues of food security, the livelihoods of rural residents and the technological development of the agricultural sector.

Securing people's rice bowls 

With the safe and stable food supply being a major concern of the country's rural work, the annual central rural work conference highlighted the production of grain and key agricultural products, vowing to stabilize the farmland acreage and increase the grain yields per unit.

Grain output of more than 650 billion kg continues to be a target in 2024, together with strengthened efforts on farmland protection, according to the meeting.

It was no easy task for China to achieve the 650 billion kg goal this year and to guarantee the supply of main agricultural products, as the country was confronted with adverse weather conditions including floods, drought and prolonged rain in parts of the country.

"The foundation of food security must be consolidated, as the consumption upgrade momentum of China's large population has driven up the food demand, and the global trade in agricultural products still faces uncertainties," said Qian Qian, academician with the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The meeting has underscored concrete measures such as prioritizing the high-standard farmland construction in areas with black soil, plain fields and irrigation systems, and raising investment subsidies.

Zhong Yu, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, said the measures outlined by the annual meeting will steadily improve the country's food production capacity, citing the role of agricultural infrastructure in countering disasters.

Revitalizing the rural sector

As fully implementing rural revitalization is vital to the country's agricultural sector, Li Guoxiang, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the rural work meeting stressed enhanced and more targeted efforts to revitalize the rural sector.

The country should continue with quality and green development, and promote relevant industries to boost the rural sector, the meeting noted.

Diversified rural industries are also conducive to consolidating the country's poverty alleviation achievements and avoiding a large-scale relapse into poverty.

According to Mao Xuefeng, vice dean of the School of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development, Renmin University of China, more funds must be channeled into the less developed regions to boost local pillar industries and the upgrading of traditional industry.

Official data shows that in the first three quarters of this year, the per capita disposable income of rural residents reached 15,705 yuan (about $2,211.6), up 7.3 percent in real terms after deducting price factors, 2.6 percentage points faster than that of urban residents.

"Underdeveloped areas should create more employment opportunities locally, increase the training of the labor force, and transform unskilled labor into skilled labor to meet the needs of industrial upgrading," Mao said.

Inducing sci-tech breakthroughs

In recent years, China has steadily improved its sci-tech innovation ability in the agricultural sector, with the contribution rate of science and technology to the sector's development reaching 62.4 percent.

The meeting outlined key measures including building a sci-tech innovation platform for the sector, and launching a series of actions to enhance the seed industry.

Concerning the seed industry, Qian urged improvements in the sharing and cooperation of innovative resources, and stepping up the integration of innovation, industry, funds and talents.

Ye Xingqing, a senior researcher at the Development Research Center of the State Council, noted the reduction in costs and increased output through the integration of quality seeds, agricultural machinery, technologies and management expertise, adding that the country should build up such integrations and achieve breakthroughs in core areas.

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