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Premier Wen Calls for Protection of Farmers' Incomes

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has reiterated the importance of farming, urging local governments to boost agricultural production and to ensure a stable rise in farmers' incomes.

"We have seen a summer harvest. Further work should focus on the production and reaping of autumn crops," Wen said during a two-day inspection tour of central China's Henan Province on July 15 and 16.

Wen asked local governments to put into effect the minimum-price policy, which helps protect farmers' incomes by setting minimum prices for grain crops.

He called for action on problems such as insufficient storehouse capacity and lack of purchase funds for grain crops.

He also required more efforts be devoted to rectifying the market of farm production materials and stabilizing prices of farm tools.

"We should ensure farmers get real benefits from the government's preferential policies," Wen said.

China has 900 million farmers and the populous Henan province is one of the top grain houses of the country. The income gap between farmers and urban citizens has been expanding drastically, causing instability in some regions.

Visiting local industrial enterprises, Wen listed the prevention of over-investment in fixed assets and the optimization of investment structures as two keys to stable and rapid economic growth.

Land administration departments and banks should play a better "gatekeeper" role in controlling new investment projects, Wen said.

Laws and regulations concerning land management should be enforced stringently, and banks should be more cautious in granting loans to avoid the over-expansion of industries with high levels of energy consumption and heavy pollution, he said.

(Xinhua News Agency July 17, 2006)

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