China's camp returns to poverty: report

BEIJING: China's countryside is coming back to poverty As it is affected by the economic slowdown, the ongoing commercial war with the United States and the growing rural and urban division, according to a report compiled by a group of experts associated with the country's Ministry of Agriculture.

The report of the Beijing Agribusiness Consultant in the East says that rural income has declined since 2014 and decreased by another 20 percent in the first half of this year.

"The current situation is not optimistic, the countryside is returning to poverty ," warned Ma Wenfeng, an analyst from Beijing Orient Agribusiness Consultant, which includes the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs as a client, the Hong-Kong based South China Morning Post reported on Sunday.

The report comes in the context of the Chinese president Xi Jinping 's pledge to eliminate poverty completely by the next year.

Over the six years till the end of 2018, China lifted 82.39 million rural residents out of poverty , state-run Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday.

Over the past 40 years, more than 700 million Chinese people have cast off poverty , representing over 70 per cent of the world's total during that period, it said.

The well-being of the agricultural economy has become increasingly crucial as China's relatively unexploited rural consumption market is now considered a resource to help offset slower growth in more than 28 years, clouded by continuing trade tensions. with the United States, according to the Post report. .

Rural China, after all, represents more than 40 percent of the country's total population.

But the good intentions of the government could be frustrated once again by structural obstacles that stand in the way of the necessary economic reforms. With each year, the gap widens between China's rural villages and their cities, according to the report.

According to government data, rural per capita income, excluding the proportion of migrant workers, fell to 809 yuan (USD 114) at the end of June this year, compared to 1,023 yuan (USD 145) at the end of 2018.

A major impediment to improving agricultural income is that farmers do not own the land they cultivate. All land in China is state-owned and farmers have the right to use it under a renewable lease of 30 years.

But absolute ownership is not negotiable, which means that farmers have no right to sell what would be their most important asset and that they significantly decrease their financial security, according to the report.

Current government policies focus on how to grow and sell more agricultural products, but do not directly address the long-term well-being of farmers, Ma said.

We [society] disparage the agricultural sector and farmers are seen as the lowest class in our society. Only when we provide these workers with the same rights, in terms of pensions, education, etc., the agricultural sector [] problem resolved, he said.

The Post report cited an anonymous farmer in the agricultural heart of China in central Henan province saying he could earn about 5,000 yuan (USD 707) per year with the peanuts he reaps in his 10 mu (0.67 hectares) of land, an amount left by his family almost nothing after basic expenses. They live with the constant fear of getting sick or having to bear unexpected costs, he said.

We have no money and when young farmers of this generation have children, they will not be able to pay for [their children's] education, said Ma, 70, in a video on Chinese social networks.

Although it is late, people there do not need to pay for education or see a doctor. But here, can we afford to see a doctor and pay those 300,000 yuan (USD 42,000)? he said.

As such, commercialization has not addressed the structural problems that hinder the improvement of the lives of most Chinese farmers, Ma argued.

Many academics and economists blame China's land policy, which dates back to the early years of the Communist Party government in the 1950s, as the cause of rural problems. After redistributing land from rich farmers to the poor, the party quickly moved to nationalize agricultural plots, which have since been owned by the government, he said.

But analysts said that decentralized control and privatization of land were unlikely since the rise of the party was based on land reforms, the basis of China's socialist development, according to the Post report.

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