China's 'No.1 central document' charts road map for advancing rural vitalization, prioritizes food security
en.hangzhou.com.cn   2024-02-05 13:59   Source: Global Times

China's central authorities have unveiled a detailed "roadmap" for effectively advancing the national rural vitalization in its "No.1 central document" for 2024, the first policy statement the central government releases at the beginning of each year that focuses on agricultural and rural issues. The document also prioritized food security, guarding against poverty and farmers' income growth among other tasks.

While the annual document once again focuses on rural vitalization and agricultural modernization, there are also new highlights, including calls for accomplishing a number of practical things that can tangibly benefit the public, signaling that emphasis has been placed on effectiveness and benefits for farmers, experts said. The document also signaled greater support for market entities to participate in rural vitalization, experts noted.

The document, released by the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council, called for forcefully and effectively promoting full rural vitalization. It contained 28 specific policy measures in six main parts, including ensuring national food security and preventing large-scale sliding back into poverty, according to the Xinhua News Agency, which was authorized to publish the document on Saturday.

The document urges focusing on improving development of rural industries, rural construction and rural governance, strengthening technology and reform drivers, stepping up measures to increase farmers' income and better executing the fight to advance comprehensive rural vitalization. It also called for accelerating agricultural modernization so as to better advance Chinese modernization.

This is the 12th "No.1 central document" on agricultural and rural work since the 18th National Congress of the CPC, underscoring the great importance China's top leadership attaches to agricultural modernization, rural vitalization as well as farmers' livelihoods, experts noted.

"The document signals that the Chinese government will accelerate rural development and will make efforts toward meeting farmers' needs and achieving tangible and accessible results," Li Guoxiang, a research fellow at the Rural Development Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Saturday.

Notably, the document urged "concentrating our efforts on accomplishing a number of practical things that are tangible and accessible to the public, and continuing to achieve substantive progress and phased results."

Such calls for effectiveness and tangible results mean that greater focus will be put on addressing various problems in carrying out the national strategy of rural vitalization, experts noted. "It's clear that the emphasis has been increasingly placed on the needs of farmers," Li said.

Among the six priorities listed in the No.1 central document is ensuring food security. Specifically, the document called for maintaining grain output of above 1.3 trillion jin (650 million tons) in 2024 through various means, including increasing unit yields. It also called for strengthening technological innovation in agriculture.

Experts said that as the world is grappling with rising geopolitical conflicts and trade protectionism, which affect global food supply chains, ensuring food security has become the top priority for not just China but also many other countries around the world.

"Ensuring a stable and safe supply of food and important agricultural products is always the top priority in building a powerful agricultural country," Wang Gangyi, a professor at Northeast Agricultural University, told the Global Times on Saturday, noting that the focus on food security is in line with various top meetings and official documents.

All-round rural vitalization

The annual Central Rural Work Conference, which was held in December 2023 and set the tone for agricultural and rural policymaking in 2024, also prioritized food security and all-round rural vitalization.

The document also called for improving development of rural industries, calling for integrated development of agricultural sectors, upgrading the agricultural processing industry, promoting high-quality development in rural circulation and strengthening measures to boost farmers' income. It also urged the improvement of rural construction, including the living conditions of rural residents.

Overall, the document called for the study and use of the examples set by the "Thousand Villages Demonstration and Ten Thousand Villages Renovation" project, which was launched in 2003 in East China's Zhejiang Province and has successfully created thousands of beautiful villages, fundamentally changing the face of the province's countryside.

Among lessons from Zhejiang, the most important is the participation of market entities in the rural vitalization drive, experts noted.

"Zhejiang's experience is actually to attract the participation of social capital and entities to mobilize the enthusiasm of the market to participate in rural revitalization," Wang said, noting that the emphasis on market entities also signals that China's rural vitalization effort has reached a critical period that requires the participation of all sectors and all elements.

The No.1 central document specifically called for improving support policies for new agricultural business entities and agricultural-related enterprises. It also urged to regulate and make good use of local government special bonds and other policy tools to support the construction of major rural vitalization projects and encourage social capital to invest in agriculture and rural areas.

"As for the specific route to rural vitalization, we will see the joint participation of market forces, government forces and social forces," Li said, noting that such joint efforts will be more effective than relying on just one force.

Many companies in first-tier cities, which have already invested a lot in the "Thousand Villages Demonstration and Ten Thousand Villages Renovation" project and have carried out many projects in this area, already have interests in participating in rural vitalization, an industry source told the Global Times on Saturday.

The No.1 central document also stressed improving rural governance and strengthening the Party's leadership, including strengthening rural reform and innovation, improving the mechanism for a diverse investment in rural vitalization and expanding the rural talent pool.

The document called for firm confidence and strenuous efforts to achieve new results in advancing rural vitalization and steadily advancing toward building an agricultural powerhouse.

Author:   Editor: Ye Lijiao