Analysis: China turns to machines as farmers seek fresh fields

BAOQUANLING, China Wed Nov 14, 2012 12:21am EST

1 of 5. A farmer drives a harvester to reap through a corn field in Suibin state farm, Heilongjiang province in this October 16, 2012 file photo. China needs to replace millions of workers who have quit farms for cities, but even its vast state power might not be able to transform the countryside into a network of big industrial farms capable of feeding its growing economy. Pulling together small plots of land to make larger operations and introducing modern mechanical techniques would help boost productivity, vital if China's agricultural sector is to meet soaring domestic food demand.

Credit: Reuters/David Stanway/Files

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BAOQUANLING, China (Reuters) - China needs to replace millions of workers who have quit farms for cities, but even its vast state power might not be able to transform the countryside into a network of big industrial farms capable of feeding its growing economy.

Pulling together small plots of land to make larger operations and introducing modern mechanical techniques would help boost productivity, vital if China's agricultural sector is to meet soaring domestic food demand.

But efforts to modernize the sector are struggling to gain traction because many farmers are suspicious about giving up their land, and even for some mechanized farms, there are too few workers.

Guaranteeing food security is a major tenet of the ruling Communist Party. The country is self-sufficient in rice and wheat, but is struggling to meet corn demand and has long given up trying to satisfy soy demand. It is the world's biggest importer of soybeans, and a major buyer of corn.

It has increased grains output for nine straight years and aims to add 50 million tonnes per year by 2020 to the record 571.21 million tonnes of grain harvested in 2011.

"It now needs the government to come out and manage the land of those who give consent, and improve economies of scale," said Fu Xuejun, a manager at the Baoquanling farm, owned by the Beidahuang Group, a huge state-owned farming conglomerate in Heilongjiang in northeast China.

Some say China should give up its fixation with self-sufficiency and take advantage of growing grains trade internationally.

"China used to emphasize self-sufficiency because the international environment was not favorable," said Li Guoxiang, researcher with the Rural Development Institute of the China Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). "Food security should have two aims - one is domestic production and the other is the ability to buy overseas."


The challenge of reviving the farming sector is daunting at a time when both the rural population and available agricultural land are shrinking.

The number of rural workers has been falling for years because of a low birth rate, an ageing population and most importantly the lure of China's fast-growing cities.

Between 1982 and 2010, when China's overall population rose by a third, the number of registered rural residents fell to around 710 million from 790 million, Reuters calculations based on census data show.

The real rural population is likely to be lower though, because many of 260 million migrants working in cities are registered in their home villages.

Millions of hectares per year of farming land are being lost to urban and industrial development. China's 2011-2015 plan for the farm sector allocates at least 104 million hectares for crops, an area the size of Egypt, compared with 120 million hectares in the previous plan. The main problem is persuading farmers not to abandon their plots.

Some land is simply lying fallow, as farmers find better pay elsewhere but still prefer not to give up their land.

"There is a lot of talk about urbanization and urban expansion encroaching on agricultural land but I often argue that non-farm wages are more relevant to whether land gets kept in production," said Bryan Lohmar, an agricultural economist and China director of the U.S. Grains Council. "A lot of land is left fallow because nobody wants to farm it."

Reflecting those wage gaps, 69-year old corn grower Li Huamin said he could earn as much from leasing out his land as from planting.

His 36-year-old son plans to abandon the plot near the state-owned farm of Suibin, a few miles from the Russian border, and open a restaurant.

"Young people aren't willing to be farmers anymore and leave to work or study in the cities - more than half have gone already," he said.


More than half of China's ploughing, planting and harvesting is carried out by machines, compared with a third a decade ago, but the biggest challenge lies in aggregating farms to develop economies of scale.

Li of CASS said studies have shown only 13-15 percent of small farmers have agreed to aggregate their land or transfer it to commercial farmers.

"The government simply can't go too fast and transfer land too quickly because of the impact on rural social stability," Li said.

Often, if a group of farmers sell, local governments use the land for more profitable industrial uses, and some farmers are reluctant to give up their land.

"Many think that if they transfer their land they won't be allowed to go back, so there are plots that are just empty because the farmers have gone to the cities but don't dare to lease out their land," said Li.

Heilongjiang became the country's largest grain producer in 2011 when yields rose 11 percent from 2010 as farmers deployed bigger and better machinery for threshing and ploughing.

Beijing wants to lift that to 65-70 percent by 2020, but the increased use of machines in most farms was a reaction to rising labor costs, not a drive to meet government targets.

"The core issue is, who will plant for us and ensure food security in future following urbanization and industrialization?" said Zong Jinyao, an official in charge of mechanization of the Ministry of Agriculture.

(Editing by Daniel Magnowski and Simon Webb)

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Comments (1)
DeanMJackson wrote:
The article reads, “Some say China should give up its fixation with self-sufficiency and take advantage of growing grains trade internationally.”

How can the Chinese Communist Party forsake self-sufficiency in basic foods when its number one goal is the defeat of the West:

“Behind the impressive smokescreen of pseudo-democracy, pseudo-capitalism and pseudo-reform, this Russian-Chinese ‘cooperation-blackmail’ strategy is irreconcilably hostile to the West. Again, this is no mere presumption. It was explicitly confirmed in May 1994 to Clark Bowers, a member of an official US Republican delegation to Peking, by Mr Mo Xiusong, Vice Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party, who is believed to be the highest-ranking Chinese Communist official ever to have answered questions put to him by a knowledgeable Western expert on Communism:

BOWERS: Is the long-term aim of the Chinese Communist Party still world Communism?

Mo XIUSONG: Yes, of course. That is the reason we exist.”
-– The Perestroika Deception (1995), by KGB defector Major Anatoliy Golitsyn.

“Since at least the early 1970s, the Communist party of China has been poised to create a spectacular but controlled “democratization” at any appropriate time. The party had by then spent two decades consolidating its power, building a network of informants and agents that permeate every aspect of Chinese life, both in the cities and in the countryside. Government control is now so complete that it will not be seriously disturbed by free speech and democratic elections; power can now be exerted through the all-pervasive but largely invisible infrastructure of control. A transition to an apparently new system, using dialectical tactics, is now starting to occur.” — Playing the China Card (The New American, Jan. 1, 1991).

In order to understand the World Communist threat to our liberties, one must understand Communist strategy:

“Lenin advised the Communists that they must be prepared to “resort to all sorts of stratagems, maneuvers, illegal methods, evasions and subterfuge” to achieve their objectives. This advice was given on the eve of his reintroduction of limited capitalism in Russia, in his work Left Wing Communism, an Infantile Disorder.

… Another speech of Lenin’s … in July 1921 is again highly relevant to understanding “perestroika.” “Our only strategy at present,” wrote Lenin, “is to become stronger and, therefore, wiser, more reasonable, more opportunistic. The more opportunistic, the sooner will you again assemble the masses round you. When we have won over the masses by our reasonable approach, we shall then apply offensive tactics in the strictest sense of the word.”

If you examine the backgrounds of prominent Russian figures, you will find that they have long Communist Party/ KGB or Komsomol pedigrees. Yet for some inexplicable reason, the Western media have accepted their sudden, orchestrated, mass “conversion” to Western-style norms of behavior, their endless talk of “democracy,” and their acceptance of “capitalism,” as genuine. “Scratch these new, instant Soviet “democrats,” “anti-Communists,” and “nationalists” who have sprouted out of nowhere, and underneath will be found secret Party members or KGB agents,” Golitsyn writes on page 123 of his new book [The Perestroika Deception]. In accepting at face value the “transformation” of these Leninist revolutionary Communists into “instant democrats,” the West automatically accepts as genuine the false “Break with the Past” — the single lie upon which the entire deception is based.

In short, the “former” Soviet Union — and the East European countries as well — are all run by people who are steeped in the dialectical modus operandi of Lenin. Without exception, they are all active Leninist revolutionaries, working collectively towards the establishment of a world Communist government, which, by definition, will be a world dictatorship.

It is difficult for the West to understand the Leninist Hegelian dialectical method — the creation of competing or successive opposites in order to achieve an intended outcome. Equally difficult for us to comprehend is the fact that these Leninist revolutionaries plan their strategies over decades and generations. This extraordinary behavior is naturally alien to Western politicians, who can see no further than the next election. Western politicians usually react to events. Leninist revolutionaries create events, in order to control reactions to them and manipulate their outcomes.” — William F Jasper, Senior Editor for The New American magazine.

You ask, what does Jasper mean when he says, “Leninist Hegelian dialectical method — the creation of competing or successive opposites in order to achieve an intended outcome”?

Simply explained, and on a tactical level, it’s called the “Scissors Strategy”, where one blade represents (for example) Putin & Company, however the other blade of the scissors–the leadership of the political “opposition” to Putin & Company–is actually controlled by Putin & Company*, which leaves the genuine opposition in the middle wondering why political change isn’t taking place. Understand this simple strategy?

On a strategic level, from 1960 – 1989 the USSR and China played the “Scissors Strategy”, by pretending to be enemies. This strategy allowed one side to play off against the other with the West, thereby gaining political advantages from the West, which neither Communist giant could have achieved if it was believed they were united. Clever, huh?

If the collapse of the USSR had been legitimate, the following obligatory actions would have taken place, as they always take place after political revolutions:

(1) Immediately after the “collapse” of the USSR high-ranking present and “former” Communist Party members within the various Federal government civilian/military/intelligence branches of the post Soviet republics were never arrested in the interests of national security:

Since there was no conquest that liberated the USSR, it would have been up to the people themselves to conduct the arrests to ensure the continuity of the freed state.

(2) Lower level Communist Party members within the 15 governments of the post USSR would have been immediately fired in the interests of national security:

The hated low-ranking CPSU members at all levels of government, who for 74 years persecuted the 90% of the population who were non-Communist, would have been fired from government positions, especially education. The freed Soviet public would then have requested assistance from the West to ensure critical services remained on-line until enough qualified freed Soviets could fill those positions.

(3) the Russian electorate these last 21 years have inexplicably only been electing for President and Prime Minister Soviet era Communist Party Quislings:

Presidents of Russia since 1991:

Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin – July 10, 1991 – December 31, 1999 – Communist.

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin – 31 December 1999 – 7 May 2000 (Acting) and May 7, 2000 – May 7, 2008 – Communist.

Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev – May 7, 2008 – May 7, 2012, during his studies at the University he joined the Communist Party.

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin – May 7, 2012 – Present, Communist:

Yeltsin and Putin would have been arrested in the interests of national security, while Medvedev would have been shunned by the newly freed Russians.

(4) there was no de-Communization program initiated after the “collapse” of the USSR to ferret out Soviet era Communist agents still in power:

The fact that there were no Allies in the freed USSR to carry out a de-Communization program, meant the freed Soviets would not only have had to take up that program themselves but ensure, unlike the German de-Nazification example in post war Germany, its effectiveness since:

(a) there was no occupation force to ensure the Communists weren’t still in power or could mount a violent comeback; and

(b) ) unlike the Nazis that persecuted minorities in Germany, and were not generally hated by the dominant society, in the USSR Communists were the hated minority who persecuted the majority.

(5) not one “crime against humanity” indictment of the thousands of criminals still alive who committed crimes on Soviet territory:

Even post Nazi Germany (West and East) convicted and imprisoned Nazi war criminals.

(6) the refusal of the Russian Navy to remove the hated Communist Red Star from the bows of vessels, and the refusal of the Russian Air Force to remove the Communist Red Star from the wings of Russian military aircraft, not to mention placing the hated Communist Red Star on all new Naval vessels and military aircraft:

To the ordinary Russian, the Communist Red Star was the symbol for the hated Communist regime that for 74 years persecuted the 90% of the nation who were non-Communist; and

(7) Lenin’s tomb still exists in Red Square:

Just as the people of Germany tore apart the Berlin Wall in 1989, so too the Russian people would have destroyed Lenin’s tomb on December 25, 1991. The 74-year persecution of the 90% non-Communist Russian population would have seen Lenin’s tomb destroyed.

Nov 14, 2012 1:03am EST  --  Report as abuse
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