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China Asks Farmers to Pursue Sustainable Agricultural Production

China unveiled on Monday wide-ranging polices to improve sustainable agriculture and raise the incomes of hundreds of millions of farmers.


It's the fourth consecutive year the so-called No. 1 Document has targeted agriculture and issues concerning the countryside, signaling again that the government's top priority is to help improve the lives of the country's 800 million farmers.


China will encourage its farmers to use more environmentally-friendly fertilizers and pesticides to reduce pollution of the soil, rivers and lakes, according to the document, which is the year's first major policy paper jointly issued by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council.


The document said the government pledges to make greater efforts to tackle serious soil erosion in areas along the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers to protect the nation's limited arable land.


Local governments have been ordered to restrict the amount of arable land that is lost to urban growth and industrialization, said the document.


Experts said the pledge is expected to guarantee the basic livelihood of Chinese farmers who have lost their land to estate development or industry without proper compensation.


The government also vows to use organic fertilizers and build more water conservation projects.


Despite a series of policies aimed at improving the income of farmers, including the abolishment agricultural tax, rural life remains hard, the document added.


Last year, the per-capita net income of the farmers stood at 3,587 yuan (US$460), less than a third of those living in cities.


(Xinhua News Agency January 30, 2007)

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