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China to accelerate modernization, boost developmental vitality in rural areas

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BEIJING, Feb. 4 (Xinhuanet) -- China will focus on accelerating agricultural modernization and boosting developmental vitality of rural areas, China's first policy document said.

The document pointed out that ensuring grain security and supplies of major farm produce will always be the country's top priority in development of modern agriculture.

The document, issued by the central committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council at the beginning of every year, is also known as the "No.1 central document."

This is the 10th consecutive year that the theme of the document has been rural issues.

China will set up a system to guarantee the effective supply of important agricultural products, increase income of the rural population and improve their well-beings, as well as push forward reforms in rural areas, it said.

As China's agricultural and rural development have entered a new stage, challenges have emerged in rising production costs and structural barriers between supply and demand of agricultural products, the document noted.

China recorded grain output of more than 589 million metric tons in 2012. It was the ninth consecutive year of increased grain harvests, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Meanwhile, the volume of China’s food imports has reached new peak. Customs data showed that the rice imports more than quadrupled from the previous year to reach 2.32 million tonnes in 2012, triggering worries about the possible impact on the global grain market.

Imports of soybeans last year reached 58.4 million tons, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.

Lower grain prices on the overseas market have made imports more beneficial to domestic buyers, which led to an increase in imports of grain, especially rice last year, Chen Xiwen, deputy director of the office of the leading group on rural work under the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, stressed.

China won't shut down the door to the international grain market, Chen noted.

The rise in rice imports will not threaten global food security because the imports only account for a small share of international rice trade, as well as domestic production and consumption, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.

Although China's grain imports increased last year, its major cereal products were basically self-sufficient because of balanced market supply and demand, noted Tang Renjian, deputy director of the leading group on rural work.

China's grain imports will see changes in terms of product variety, but import volumes will stay stable for a relatively long time in the future, Tang added.

Continuous increases in grain output in past years have mainly been attributed to technological advances, said Chen Xiwen.

Chen said the construction of water conservancy infrastructure and an emphasis on advancing agricultural technology will help ensure greater yields on limited farmland.

Due to the country's fast industrialization and urbanization, an inadequate labor force is gradually becoming a major factor hindering the country's grain output, analysts said.

The document will help determine who will farm and grow grains for the country in the future, said Lu Bu, a researcher in agricultural resources and regional planning at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

The country's agricultural output will be increased when more professional investors, family farms and rural cooperatives are involved in farm production, he said.

"Farmers will be interested in using more advanced technologies in agricultural production when they are farming on a larger scale," he said.

Besides, China will devote itself to building a better supervision system on food-safety while preventing pollution in agricultural production and livestock and poultry farming, the document said.

At present, China's agricultural production typically relies on decentralized household management, and the status quo seems to be hard to change in a quite long period, Chen said.

The problematical input mainly has resulted in the food-safety issue. The government should monitor the production from sources and urge the participants in the supply chain to fulfill its responsibilities, he added.

The spread of scientific and technological education is necessary as well, he said, most of the farmers might use the drug irrationally in the production for lacking relative scientific knowledge.

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