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President Xi Jinping has called for accelerated steps to build up China’s agricultural sector and vigorously promote rural vitalization.
Xi, who is also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks while addressing the annual rural work conference, which was held on Friday and Saturday in Beijing.
Analysts said Xi used the two-day meeting to chart the direction for boosting China’s agricultural sector and map out next-phase priorities for the work related to agriculture, rural areas and farmers.
Agricultural development is essential to meeting the people’s demand for a better life, attaining high-quality growth and harnessing the foundation for national security, Xi said at the conference.
It is important for China to follow its own path, refrain from blindly borrowing the model of other nations, and rely on its own strength to ensure food security, he said.
Xi stressed that the nation must build up its eco-friendly and low-carbon agriculture, carry forward its farming civilization and take solid steps to promote common prosperity.
He called for solving practical issues that are most urgent for agricultural and rural development and are of the most pressing concern to farmers, saying that projects that are out of touch with reality should be avoided.
The president reiterated that ensuring the steady and safe supply of food and key agricultural produce will always remain the top priority for the nation’s agricultural sector.
Despite impacts from extreme weather conditions and COVID-19, China secured another bumper grain harvest this year, with total grain output reaching 686.53 billion kilograms this year, up 0.5 percent compared with 2021, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. This is the eighth consecutive year that China has registered a grain harvest of over 650 billion kg.
Tang Lixia, a professor at China Agriculture University’s National Institute for Rural Vitalization Studies, said that Xi has again underlined the fundamental role of the agricultural sector and the importance of food security to the nation two months after the 20th National Congress of the CPC.
“China was able to ensure its food security despite gridlocks in the international supply chains and fluctuations in global food prices. That was largely due to the extraordinary measures the nation adopted to beef up grain production,” she said.
In his remarks, Xi highlighted the imperative to implement another round of actions to bolster grain production capacity, saying that farmland and seeds are two crucial factors that the nation must focus on to lift production.
He urged efforts to keep the country’s farmland area above the red line of 120 million hectares and effectively vitalize the seed industry, including steps to ensure self-reliance on key varieties.
It is important to make parallel efforts in lifting food production and reducing food losses, keep moving forward with efforts to reduce food wastage, and establish a diversified food supply system, Xi said.
The president said it is necessary to shift manpower, material resources and fiscal support to rural vitalization, highlighting that vitalization of rural industries is the top priority.
He also spoke of the importance of consolidating and expanding achievements in poverty alleviation, a campaign that saw the nation lift close to 100 million rural residents out of absolute poverty.
Xi called for steps to ensure the smooth transitioning of aid policies targeting groups and regions that have shaken off poverty and to prevent the recurrence of poverty on the scale of villages or townships.
He pointed out that China must rely on science, technology and reform to build up its agricultural sector, saying that the nation must focus closely on the forefront of global agricultural technology and accelerate steps to attain a high level of self-reliance on this front.
The president also outlined steps to build a more habitable, harmonious and beautiful countryside, including steps to beef up public services and infrastructure for pandemic response, eldercare, education and healthcare. The goal is to develop sound public infrastructure, deliver more convenient public services, improve the level of comfort in the living environment, he said.
Xi also emphasized the significance of upholding the Party’s leadership, improving the quality of farmers across the board and encouraging more college graduates, migrant workers and entrepreneurs to explore opportunities in rural areas.
Huang Jikun, head of Peking University’s New Rural Development Research Institute, said that Xi has put forward a vision to transform the nation’s agriculture and rural areas, with strong emphasis given to science and technology and institutional innovation.
“This vision will help the nation to transform its agricultural sector toward a modern, efficient and green farming sector,” he said.