2007-12-23 14:28:31 Xinhua English
BEIJING, Dec. 23 (Xinhua) -- In the wake of escalating inflation, China pledged to draw up a series of measures, including more subsidies for farmers, to secure a stable production and supply of produce in 2008 when Beijing hosts the Olympics bringing the country into the spotlight.
The message was delivered at the annual central rural work conference that concluded here on Sunday. The conference outlined the top priorities of the country's rural work in 2008 and a certain period of time thereafter.
To prevent major farm produce from "going short of supply" and avoiding "extreme ups and downs" in farm produce prices would be atop priority of the government, a document released after the conference said.
Huge rises in food prices such as grain, pork and cooking oil late this year should have raised the income of farmers. However, it also lifted the nation's consumer price index (CPI) to an 11-year high of 6.9 percent in November, well above the government-set three percent target.
The high inflation had become a major concern of the government. China decided that "to prevent current price increases from becoming evident inflation" would be a primary task of the macroeconomic control in 2008 at the high-profile Central Economic Work Conference.
Experts said balancing inflation curbs and efforts for steady price increases of produce for the good of farmers would be a key challenge for the Chinese government next year.
The tricky situation prompted China's top leaders to instruct the government to focus on national grain security and the continuation of boosting farmers' income next year.
The conference also made it clear the government would "strive to promote farm produce production to ensure supply and actively make efforts to raise income of farmers" in the coming year.
China produced more than 500 million tons of grain in 2007, the fourth consecutive year of yield growth. But production still fell short of demand.
The conference said "grain production would be put at a more prominent position" on the agenda of the government next year. It asked local governments to carry out subsidies for farmers "to the full", and find ways to increase the yield of per unit of farmland to boost grain production.
Analysts said farmers could expect to get more direct subsidies for grain production next year. It would enhance the enthusiasm of farmers in cultivating grain, they said.
The conference continued to ask local governments to make more efforts to ensure the production of meat, eggs, milk, vegetables and fruits, which were directly related to the livelihood of common people.
It also emphasized the importance of food safety, calling on local governments to strengthen animal-borne disease control and improve supervision over quality of farm produce.
Investment into the rural areas, such as irrigation facilities, protection of farmland and subsidies for farmers, would be raised "to a great extent", the conference pledged, with no specific figure revealed.