* Government lists priorities for rural sector in 2013
* China to speed up land transfers but ensure food security
* To support farm prices by boosting state stockpiles
* To improve land registration, protect farmers' interests
BEIJING, Jan 31 China will draw up policies
aimed at speeding up the transfer of rural land as part of
efforts to improve efficiency and promote large-scale commercial
farming, the government said on Thursday.
The central government said in its "number one document" for
2013, focusing on modernising agriculture, it would grant more
subsidies to large-scale landholders, family farms and rural
cooperatives as it tries to provide more incentives to bring
economies of scale to the fragmented countryside.
The "number one document" is a key indicator of policy
priorities and has focused on rural matters every year since
"The development of China's rural sector has entered a new
stage along with the deepening industrialisation and
urbanisation," the government said in the document, which was
published by the official Xinhua news agency.
It listed grain security and farm product supply as top
priorities, with China seeking to boost production as it
urbanises and industrialises. The relocation to the cities of
more than 200 million migrant workers has slashed the rural
workforce and boosted food demand, leading to a growing
dependence on imports.
The government will continue to support domestic farm prices
by increasing state stockpiles, it said. The policy has sent
domestic prices much higher than international levels, requiring
even tighter regulations of imports.
The government will continue to purchase and stockpile corn,
soybeans, rapeseed, cotton and sugar while strengthening the
import tariff and quotas system, it said, without giving
China would also draw up measures to stimulate agriculture
commodity futures trading and introduce new futures products.
The government provided no details in the document.
The government will strengthen monitoring on imports of
"sensitive" farm products and crack down on smuggling, it said,
Consolidating land under the control of larger commercial
farms has remained a big challenge for the government, with a
large number of leaseholders still unwilling to give up the
safety net that their small farms provide.
The government is concerned that allowing large-scale land
transfers will enable authorities to sell more scarce farmland
to profitable non-agricultural sectors. It also fears a rising
tide of rural unrest in the face of land grabs and pollution
from heavy industry.
The government aims to improve the land registration system
in the coming years to "offer legal proof to farmers in cases of
land transfers", it said in the document.
Farmers in China do not directly own most of their fields.
Instead, most rural land is owned collectively by a village, and
farmers get leases that last for decades.
In theory, the villagers can collectively decide whether to
apply to sell off or develop land. In practice, however, local
governments usually decide land sales and get the bulk of
Chinese academics have long called for land system reforms
to permit direct land transfers by farmers.
Food security has long been a preoccupation of the ruling
Communist Party, but imports last year accounted for about 12
percent of total food supplies and senior officials have already
ruled out self-sufficiency as an option.
But the government has remained reluctant to endorse
large-scale imports, and the government is also expected to
promise to better regulate trade.
(Reporting by David Stanway and Kevin Yao; Editing by Miral
Fahmy and Robert Birsel)