Promoting agriculture

Updated: 2012-02-03 11:13

(China Daily)

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Promoting innovation in science and technology for agriculture as the main theme of this year's No 1 document, jointly released by the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council, not only demonstrates the central authorities' concern for agriculture. It also points to their consideration for the long-term development of agriculture.

With bumper harvests for eight consecutive years, the total grain output reached 571 billion kilograms in 2011. Whether the country can sustain such momentum will have a significant bearing on the country's overall economic growth and social progress amid the deepening influence of climate change and increasing shortages of arable land and water.

With the per capita arable land area only 0.09 hectares at present and continuing urbanization, it is unrealistic to rely on expanding the area of arable land for greater production. And relying on increasing the use of fertilizer and pesticide will not just affect farming efficiency but also cause long-term damage to the environment.

So innovation in science and technology is the only reliable way to ensure long-term and healthy agricultural development. Science and technology contributed more than 50 percent to agricultural growth last year, showing how important they are to grain production.

What is particularly noteworthy is that the central government has already made policies in this regard. The financial support for students majoring in agricultural science will be increased to encourage more students to apply for the major. The State will also pay for the tuition of those graduates who choose to work in rural areas. And more will be done in the coming years to develop free polytechnic schools for training rural technicians.

All these measures will hopefully attract more talent to agricultural science and technology, where there is currently a shortage of talent as an increasing number of young rural villagers have migrated to work in urban areas.

The central government's expenditure in agriculture increased from more than 200 billion yuan ($31.8 billion) in 2003 to more than 1 trillion yuan last year. With the promise from the central authorities that the rate of increase of the input into agricultural science and technology will be no less than the increase rate of financial revenue, there is more than enough reason to believe that science and technology will play a more important role in agricultural production.