Farmers toiling in careers

Updated: 2013-08-16 23:59

By Li Wenfang and Xu Jingxi in (China Daily)

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Sixty percent of farmers in Guangdong said they observed that the number of farmers in their villages had dropped, while only 11 percent saw an increase, with similar figures recorded in both the more-developed Pearl River Delta and underdeveloped northern part of the province, according to the survey.

Eighty-three percent of the villagers said young people in their villages were unwilling to farm, citing reasons such as low income, hardship, bleak job prospects and the availability of other ways of making a living.

Only 7 percent said young people in their villages were willing to farm.

China’s rural population stood at 642.22 million at the end of last year, accounting for 47.4 percent of the total.

Migrant workers, coming from rural areas to work in non-farming sectors, grew 3.9 percent year-on-year to 262.61 million last year.

Migrant workers in Guangdong’s Pearl River Delta, the major economic powerhouse in the country, grew 2.5 percent to 51.99 million, accounting for 19.8 percent of the total across the country.

Peng Peng, a researcher of Guangdong social studies at the Guangzhou Academy of Social Sciences, said young rural people migrating to cities is an irresistible trend amid fast urbanization and a manufacturing labor shortage. Rural-urban income disparity is another major reason behind the trend, he said.

To correct this, Peng said, Guangdong should modernize its agriculture by promoting advanced technology and industrial farming, under which fewer people but more machines will work on the farmland to achieve economies of scale and bring handsome incomes.

"By then, young people, including college students, will be lured back to the farmland,"he said.

As a traditionally agricultural country, China saw most of its population work on small, scattered patches of farmland.

As more people are moving to cities, the government is promoting family farming, under which a small number of farmers, usually from one family, are encouraged to rent large tracts of farmland.

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