NEW LOOK: Jiangxi Province spares no effort to build a new socialist countryside. For example, Tangshi Village (pictured), Xingguo County of the province, has significantly improved its rural infrastructures, cleaned polluted ponds and built a number of bookstores for farmers (ZHOU KE)
In September 2010, the Research Center for Rural Economy of the Ministry of Agriculture conducted a survey of 9,950 villages in 12 provinces. The results showed that the growth in input for agriculture, forestry and water resources was slow, the proportion of budgetary investment in agricultural fixed assets was declining, general transfer payment to some major grain-producing counties was growing slowly, and some supporting funds and subsidies were appropriated behind schedule.
China should improve its mechanism to support agricultural development, strengthen financial input toward agriculture and the countryside, balance the development between urban and rural areas, continue to readjust the national income distribution structure and ensure fast growth of fiscal input in agriculture, Song said.
Breaking the bottleneck
Water shortage remains an obstacle for China's grain production. More than half of the country's cultivated land has inadequate basic irrigation and drainage systems. To ease the stress of the water bottleneck, the conference decided to intensity the construction of water conservation facilities with priority on improving irrigation infrastructure.
This year the Ministry of Water Resources will intensify farmland irrigation project construction, harness medium and small rivers, reinforce small-scale endangered reservoirs, prevent floods, construct floodwater storage areas, improve infrastructure construction against droughts and address other weak links concerning water conservation.
Winter and spring are the busiest seasons for water conservancy facilities in China. According to the plan of the Ministry of Water Resources, from winter 2010 to spring 2011, the total investment in water resource projects will increase by more than 10 percent year on year to surpass 170 billion yuan ($25.64 billion). It is estimated that in 2011 the country will increase the acreage of stable yields for crops irrespective of droughts or floods by 1.06 million hectares, improve irrigation facilities on 5.3 million hectares, eliminate waterlogging on 1.09 million hectares and develop water-saving irrigation on 2.08 million hectares.
The impact of water resource shortages on China's agriculture has been seen in recent years. According to the Ministry of Water Resources, in 2005, a total of 3,882 hectares of cropland suffered from droughts. That figure increased to 4,899 hectares in 2007. In 2010, direct losses caused by floods totaled 374.5 billion yuan ($56.49 billion) and those by droughts 76.9 billion yuan ($11.6 billion). Droughts caused grain losses of 16.8 billion kg, more than 3 percent of the country's total annual grain output.
Most of China's existing water conservation facilities were constructed between the 1950s and the 1970s, falling into disrepair over the years. Now, less than half of the projects are in proper working condition. The Central Rural Work Conference discussed and arranged the future development and reform of the water conservation system, meaning the Chinese Government will begin to address this weak link.
Reinvigorating the rural
Special attention was also given at the Central Rural Work Conference to the livelihood of rural residents. In 2011, the government will take more measures to enhance farmers' vocational skills and increase their incomes, accelerate the construction of rural drinking water facilities, roads and marsh gas projects, renovate dilapidated housing and improve rural education and medical mechanisms and public cultural services.