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Modernizing China's farms: from the past to the future

Editor: Li Kun 丨CCTV.com

02-23-2016 16:20 BJT

By Christina Kitova, associate partner at Hodges Media, based in Oklahoma City, OK USA

Agriculture is an important sector for a country that boasts of a rural population of more than 600 million by 2015. Farming first started in China at around 7000-6000 BC as farmers grew the millet and corn crop.

 

In North China, civilization was established at around 1100 BC in the Zhou Dynasty and in1000 BC there were signs of extensive irrigation. 

During the first century AD, Fan Sheng-chih's Agricultural Manual provided detailed notes about conducting intensive production. China's main farming was wet rice agriculture, which was a labor-intensive method of cultivation.

For centuries onward, some changes on the mechanization of the rice production had taken place, while paddy rice production remained labor intensive, and often experienced labor shortages.  

Chinese farmers used their families as a labor force. In the era of Confucianism (551-470 BC) nearly 50 different varieties of food plants were grown in the country.

In the 18th Century their method was the most developed in the world and the techniques, including cultivation, was the most skilled until the science of agronomy took shape.

The collective approach to agriculture was introduced during the 1950s as a means of generating a surplus to support urban development, but a few problems ensued. 

During the 1980's, Beijing had introduced dramatic economic reforms that supported individual farmers to revert back to their land. Such measures had ended up with positive results for farmers' lives. 

Accordingly in 2010, China had become the largest exporter in the world. Its  reform and opening up policy have created a much more diversified economy, along with an expanded banking system that spurred a stronger private sector while attracting foreign capital to China's industries.

Accordingly, farming in China would grow more prosperous with greater modernization. With China's history as its guide, the Chinese farming sector would likely enjoy a brighter future.

At the moment, Beijing is developing a land registration system that would record the farmers' ownership for usage of land, which allow them to transfer those usage rights, since private ownership of land is currently not allowed. 

The farming industry contributes 15 percent towards China's GDP (gross domestic product) and employs nearly 30 percent of the nationwide workforce. 

The trend of the nation's younger generation prefer taking corporate and technical-related jobs in larger cities as opposed to remaining in the rural family farming business, primarily due to higher pay. 

However, technological changes could attract the younger generation to return to the farming industry as they would simultaneously provide new skill sets to elevate crop-growing standards, while setting up better working conditions. 

Meanwhile, there's a rising trend of the younger generation to prefer buying imported products as opposed to domestic goods.

A matter of trust can be re-established to enhance land reforms to continue its forward momentum. More support is needed to offer financial lending for new start ups and provide better training for farmers.

Farmers represent the largest consumer group in China, meaning that when they reap higher incomes their spending would inject more growth to the Chinese economy.

An improved output is needed to decrease agricultural costs and increase profit margins, which make it attractive to purchase more-advanced computerized farming equipment. 

It is also attractive for more foreign investments to pour into the domestic agricultural sector, to introduce new technology and modernization that could spark higher profits, providing lucrative returns on investments, while increasing exports and imports.

Beijing is moving in the right direction to revitalize the agricultural sector, which includes help for rice plantations to cattle, and to provide the equipment while allowing farmers to purchase land agreements that are more affordable, and lessening restrictions on land usage. 

 

( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )

 

 

Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

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