China has a large population but little arable land. With only seven percent of the world's cultivated land, China has to feed one fifth of the world's population. China's agriculture, therefore, is an important issue that attracts worldwide attention. Some foreigners once raised the question: "Who will feed China?" "We Chinese will feed ourselves!" replied China's leaders and agriculture experts.
Chinese agriculture has developed rapidly since reform in rural areas began in 1978. The major reforms were: the household responsibility system with remuneration linked to output, which restored to farmers the right to use land, arrange farm work, and dispose of their output; canceling the state monopoly on purchase and marketing of agricultural products, and price restrictions on most agricultural and ancillary products; abolishing many restrictive policies, allowing farmers to develop a diversified economy in rural areas and run township enterprises so as to fire their enthusiasm for production. The reforms emancipated and developed rural productive forces, promoted the rapid growth of agriculture Ð particularly in grain production Ð and the continuous optimization of agricultural structure. The achievements have been remarkable. China now leads the world in output of grain, cotton, oil-bearing crops, fruit, meat, eggs, aquatic products and vegetables.
With the continuous growth, agricultural products has shown a clear increase in output per capita. In 2005, grain output per capita was 371 kilograms, and per capita figures for meat (pork, beef and mutton), milk, and aquatic products were above world averages, reaching 47.2 kg, 21.1 kg and 39.2 kg, respectively.
In 2004, the Chinese government put into effect the policy of reducing or exempting agriculture taxes. At the end of 2005, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress decided to abolish agriculture taxes statutes that have been in effect of some 50 years. The objective of this measure is to reduce farmers' burdens, enhance basic agriculture and shrink the gap between urban and rural areas.
Increase in Outputs of Main Farm Products
(Unit: 10,000 tons)