Monday, January 3, 2011

God is Mean, Government is Nice

A propaganda article promoting the Chinese government's vision of "modern agriculture" in the new 5-year plan introduced a model farmer named Hu Guoping. Once, Mr. Hu says, his ambition was to go to university and get out of the countryside. But he now considers himself fortunate to have enjoyed a "golden period" for farmers over the past five years. The government's great policies are making his dream of modern agriculture come true.

Six or seven years ago, when the reporter interviewed Hu, the farmer had trouble scraping enough funds together to plant his crops. Today he runs a 100 million-yuan business, is the biggest grain farmer in Jiangxi Province, has 500 employees, and is preparing to start up operations in Africa.

In 2004, the government started giving favorable policies for farmers. In 2005, having seen the policy change, Hu began renting more land. When the government announced that the 2600-year-old agricultural tax in 2006, farmer Hu was so excited he couldn't sleep at night.

When farmers who had contracted their land to him wanted it back, he tore up their contracts and gave it back. He passed on all the money from the government, not keeping even one fen. Now he helps farmers by selling them quality seed (it seems he runs a seed company) and teaching them new techniques. He said, "I have to support modern agriculture to help farmers see how they can get rich."

In 2008, when the Party said land rights would be unchanged for a long time, all Hu's worries were dispelled. He went out and rented more land. Now he has huge tracts of farmland and ponds for raising crabs and fish.

Agriculture is an uncertain business. Hu says, "We farmers always say that we depend on heaven to eat." Hu elaborates: "There are two heavens. One heaven is God; the other heaven is the government."

Hu Guoping makes it clear who is responsible for his success: “God controls the weather; the state controls policy. God’s temper grinds us down, but the state’s policy lets us farmers get more and more benefits...modern agriculture is promising!”

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