China's young migrant workers losing farming skills

Updated: 2012-04-28 13:27


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China's migrant workers increased to 250 million in 2011, with a growing average monthly income of 2,049 yuan ($304), but most have abandoned the farming skills treasured by their ancestors, Beijing News reported Saturday.

Only 10.5 percent of migrant workers have received training in farming knowledge, 26.2 percent have no farming skills, while an overwhelming 68.8 percent have never been trained at all, according to a report released by China's State Statistics Bureau.

The younger the migrant worker, the less farming knowledge they have. This shift is of critical importance because the very infrastructure of farming is being destroyed. The inherited link between mankind and the land is being broken, the report said.

More farmers abandoned rural life to take their chances in the cities in 2011, with 10.5 million new migrant workers last year, up 4.4 percent from the previous year, according to the report.

However, there is no surplus of the migrant workforce as fewer migrant workers choose to work among different provinces, which was cited as a new trend in 2011.

The middle and west regions of China became a new work destination for migrant works as the regional economies take off. People started to leave the traditional labor-intensive Yangtze River Delta and Pearl River Delta, the report said.

The report also said the average age among migrant workers rose to 36 years from 34, and people above 40 make up a heavier proportion of that group.

In term of incomes, migrant labor in the west areas earned 1,990 yuan per month, middle areas 2,006 yuan, eastern parts earn a little more at 2,053 yuan. The statistics shows the income gap is narrowing.

Though the contract rate between companies and labor is climbing, there are still a staggering number of construction workers without a work guarantee, the report said.