Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited central China’s Henan province over the weekend to inspect the country’s major farming base and rally efforts for this year’s grain harvest.
Wen flied to Henan on Saturday, just after the closing of the “two sessions” last week. It has been his ninth visit to the agricultural province since he became premier in 2003.
The premier examined crop fields and visited local farmers and institutions for agricultural research, in order to gain an overall view of the spring agricultural production.
Wheat planting covers more than 79.9 million mu (5.33 million hectares) of farmland in Henan, including 60.84 million mu of high-quality wheat.
Wen said efforts should be made to bring the technological role to a full play, enhance management and formulate disaster prevention plans.
In Xiaoshi village of Linying county, Wen carefully examined the condition of the field and the wheat. A local agricultural professor told Wen that rainwater and low temperature since last December had contributed to the sound growth of wheat sprouts.
Wen said farmers’ hard work and guidance offered by agricultural experts are key to harvest and should be appreciated. He also ordered officials to solve the problem of the lack of electricity for water sprinklers in the field.
He told villagers that “the minimum purchasing price for wheat will continue to increase this year,” and that the government will continue to offer oil subsidies if international oil prices increase.
After listening to the introduction to large farming machines and watching the demonstration of a pilotless plane for farming, Wen encouraged researchers to boost farming technological innovation and make efforts in the design, maintenance, use and sale of farming machines, so as to guarantee massive farming production.
“The fundamental way out for agricultural development lies in technology,” Wen said, adding that only technology can improve the country’s tight grain supply, especially under the condition that the total area of cultivated land cannot be expanded.
“Machinery farming is an irreversible trend, as more and more young farmers choose to work in cities,” Wen said, adding that the coverage of farming machinery in Henan is 20 percentage higher than the national average and the momentum should be maintained.
Farming technology schools should be improved so that better educated farmers could join the force of agricultural laborers and become “new-generation farmers,” he said.
Wen also called for improving public services in rural areas.
At a local villager’s home, the premier promised to increase pensions for the elderly and agricultural subsidies.
“Agriculture is the foundation for the country’s development, and farmers have contributed greatly (to the development),” he said, adding, “Agricultural modernization should not be forgotten during industrialization and urbanization; farmers and the countryside should not be forgotten in developing cities and industries.”
The State Council, or Cabinet, promulgated measures for boosting Henan’s development and the construction of a central economic zone last September, Wen said, adding that “both city dwellers and farmers should lead a more affluent life,” and that the environment of both cities and the countryside should be improved.
When visiting the Shuanghui Group, a large food company based in Henan, Wen asked the enterprise to focus on food safety and quality as well as integrity and responsibility, as the food sector concerns people’s health and safety.