Farmers toiling in careers

Updated: 2013-08-16 23:59

By Li Wenfang and Xu Jingxi in (China Daily)

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Many pessimistic about improving their lives through farming: survey

Become a farmer to make more than a banker? US investment guru Jim Rogers once predicted that farming could be the best job this century.

But farmers in Guangdong province, one of China’s richest regions, have a different view, if a recent survey is any indication.

Farmers toiling in careers

Sugar cane is a major cash crop for farmers in Shaoguan, Guangdong province, but farmers said fewer buyers have approached them in recent years due to an overabundance of the crop throughout the country.Zhou Wenjie /Xinhua

Slightly more than half of the rural respondents in Guangdong province said farming is not the way to get rich, and 59 percent said farming cannot continually improve their lives.

The findings, experts said, reflect the growing wealth gap in the world’s second-largest economy amid fast urbanization and population migration.

Only one-third of those polled said farming could improve their income, according to the survey by the Guangzhou Public Opinion Research Center, which interviewed 1,500 villagers across the province in June.

"I don’t think farming can make a fortune. It simply is a living,"said Huang Kanzhao, a pineapple grower in Zhanjiang, western Guangdong.

The 60-year-old toils with his wife on one-third of a hectare. The couple earn 17,500 yuan ($2,860) a year, half the average of their urban counterparts, even when "harvests are good".

Huang encouraged his children — two sons and a daughter, all in their 30s — to work in cities as government employees and office workers.

"They earn much more than I do,"Huang said, without elaborating.

Rural families with members working in non-farming sectors earned an average of 49,668 yuan in 2011, while rural families engaged in farming reported an average income of 21,905 yuan, according to a report issued by the Center for Chinese Rural Studies of Central China Normal University last year.

The increasing wealth gap has prompted more farmers, especially young people, to migrate to cities.

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