Left-behind children, whose parents have left rural areas to become migrant workers in towns or cities, enjoy their free lunch in the school canteen in central China’s Anhui province. (Photo from People’s Daily Online)
Left-behind children, whose parents have left rural areas to become migrant workers in towns or cities, enjoy their free lunch in the school canteen in central China’s Anhui province. (Photo from People’s Daily Online)

Rural affairs have remained a top priority for China for 18 consecutive years, with the country on Sunday unveiling the “No. 1 central document” for 2021, which stressed the importance of efforts to comprehensively push forward rural vitalization and accelerate the modernization of agriculture and rural areas.

Recent years have seen solid progress in China’s pursuit of rural vitalization. Below are some of the details of China’s continued efforts in this area. The rural vitalization strategy was proposed as a key move for the development of a modernized economy at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2017.

China released a package of policies in 2018 charting the roadmap for rural vitalization. The timetable required that by 2020, the rural vitalization strategy should have established an institutional framework and policy system. By then, no Chinese person would live under the existing poverty line, and rural productivity and agricultural supply would have improved substantially.

By 2035, “decisive” progress will have been made, with the basic modernization of agriculture and rural areas achieved. All Chinese people, whether in cities or rural areas, will have equal access to basic public services. Urban and rural integration will have improved.

By 2050, rural areas should have robust agriculture, beautiful landscapes and prosperous farmers. China detailed plans to fully promote the strategy of rural vitalization in the Chinese leadership’s proposals for formulating the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035.

Under this development blueprint, the country will push the development of industries with distinctive rural characteristics, cultivate new industries and modes of business, and encourage entrepreneurship and innovation in rural areas.

To achieve rural vitalization, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs last month vowed to focus on four key tasks. First, the country will improve its supplies of grain and other important agricultural products, focusing on the seed industry and arable land.

Second, more will be done to improve rural industries, such as the agricultural product processing industry, to create more jobs in rural regions. Third, water supply, logistics, the power grid and transport infrastructure will be upgraded, and rural public education, hospitals and cultural services will be enhanced. The fourth task is boosting rural governance.

This year’s “No. 1 central document” lists China’s whole-year targets and tasks concerning agriculture and rural areas. The country will keep its sown areas stable this year, with its grain output to exceed 650 billion kg.

It will further improve the quality of agricultural products and food safety, and ensure that the growth of farming incomes outpaces that of urban incomes. Having removed all impoverished counties from its poverty list, China will set a five-year transition period for counties that have recently shaken off poverty and gradually shift the policy focus from poverty alleviation toward comprehensively promoting rural vitalization, according to the document.

As for agricultural modernization, the document highlights the country’s ability to ensure supplies of grain and major agricultural products, noting its ability to stabilize its grain sown area and improve its yield per unit area of land, accelerate the construction of a modern breeding system, promote a green and healthy aquaculture, and optimize the trade of agricultural products.

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