Chinese farmers return as grain price soars

Himalayan News Service

Chengdu (China), April 24:

Lured by a grain price hike, several Chinese are returning to their farmlands giving up jobs in the cities, reports Xinhua. Recent government policies, including agricultural tax exemption or reduction, have acted as incentives for these farmers. “In recent years, farmers could barely earn enough from their crops. But it is no longer the situation and it would be foolish to desert the farms when the price of rice has gone up by more than 10 percent,” said Li Xinhua, a farmer in Sichuan province.

Due to a decrease in the output of staple agricultural products, such as grain, cotton and oil-bearing crops, and a steady demand in the market, the prices grew by a record 15 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2003. This was higher than in the first three quarters, according to a survey of 2,700 agricultural production units by the National Bureau of Statistics. Li’s family owns a 0.3-hectare farmland, producing 2,250 kg, which could earlier be sold for no more than 400 yuan ($48).

“Taking out the price of seeds, fertilizer and pesticide as well as agricultural tax, my family could hardly make profits and sometimes we even lost money,” said Li, who was earning 2,000 to 5,000 yuan (241 to 602 dollars) in Guangzhou. Similar experiences drove many farmers in China to give up tilling their land, once regarded as their basic livelihood, and move to the cities.