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Oration of the Minister of Agriculture

  

China, a big agricultural country endowed by nature with rich agricultural resources, has a long history of farming and the tradition of intensive cultivation as well as a huge rural population. Since the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC), the Chinese government has always placed high priority on the development of agriculture. Since 1978, China has carried out step by step the policy of reform and opening up, bringing along a quickened pace in agricultural reform and development. Particularly, in recent years the government has abided by giving first priority to the work on agriculture, rural areas and farmers in all our work to adopt a series of important policies and measures to support the development of agriculture and rural areas, facilitate increasingly greater initiatives of farmers in production, bring in large numbers of essential factors of modern agricultural production, and make extensive application of achievement made in agricultural science and technology. By doing so, agricultural labours have gradually improved their quality, and agriculture has witnessed an improved productivity of farmland, a better utilization of resources, higher productivity of labours, and a stronger overall production capability. All this has constantly contributed to new achievements in the development of agriculture and rural economy. Currently, China ranks first in the world in terms of the production of cereals, cotton, fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry, eggs and fishery products. Rural residents have continued to improve their living standards, moving from a subsistence life to a better-off one. China has successfully resolved the problem of feeding and clothing its population that accounts for almost 21 percent of the world total with its farmland that makes up less than 9 percent of the world total. In 2006, the total rural poor population reduced to 21.48 million from 250 million in 1978 when the country started to adopt the policy of reform and opening up, which has laid a solid foundation for development, reform and stability in the country, and made an important contribution to the development of the world agriculture, the advancement of global poverty alleviation and the human progress.  

 

Now, China is taking up an important historical opportunity in the development of agriculture and rural economy. Taking into consideration the national interests at the new stage of economic development in the new century, the central government has put forward basic requirements for taking the solve of problems facing agriculture, rural areas and farmers as top priority in all our work; identified the basic strategy for balancing urban and rural development; determined that the country has entered such a stage in economic development of having industries to promote agriculture and cities to help the countryside; worked out the basic principle of getting industry to support agriculture and cities to support the countryside, and giving more, taking less and loosening control; and set basic tasks for building a new socialist countryside. Currently, economic development has maintained a good momentum and agricultural markets have faced strong demands, which has played an increasingly stronger role in fueling the development of agriculture and rural economy as well as in increase of farmers' job opportunity and income. Nevertheless, agricultural development in China is now under double restrictions of resources and markets, which makes it a very arduous task to develop agriculture in a sound and fast way. From now on, we will take the building of a new socialist countryside as the general target, and develop a modern agriculture as the priority, promote higher grain production, better returns in agriculture and increased income of farmers as our central tasks. To this end, we energetically make greater efforts in policy support, increase inputs to agriculture and rural areas, deepen restructuring, accelerate progress in science and technology, upgrade equipment and facilities, improve cultural and scientific levels of farmers, and improve the performance, returns and competitiveness of agriculture in an all-round way. 

 

Thanks to the great importance attached to opening agriculture to the outside world, China has increasingly closer links with other countries in this field. As a result, a wide-range, all-round and in-depth opening of agriculture has come into being. Now, the country has built up agricultural exchange and cooperation relations with some major international agricultural and financing organizations as well as more than 140 countries. It has become the fourth largest agricultural trade player in the world along with increased agricultural imports and exports over these years through further opening up agricultural markets, abolishing all non-tariff measures and sharply cutting down duties imposed on agricultural products. China has offered help to some developing countries to the best of its ability. It will further open the agriculture to the outside world, fulfill earnestly all the commitments it made for accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), promote and take an active part in the new round of multilateral agricultural trade negotiations. China will energetically make efforts to explore new areas, new approaches and new ways and methods to strengthen agricultural cooperation with other countries for mutual benefits and win-win objectives.  
 

The Chinese nation did create high civilization of agriculture in its history, and in the future China will accelerate its agricultural development by following the path of building a modern agriculture for more brilliant achievements and a greater contribution to its food safety and peaceful development as well as to development of the world agriculture.