Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Minister Han's Village Survey in Guizhou

As reported earlier this week, China's Ministry of Agriculture is sending teams of officials out to villages this month to conduct surveys. Today the Ministry reports on Minister Han Changfu's survey of a village in Guizhou Province during February 24-27.

The article explains that the Ministry has a strategy of matching up each departmental official with a village, farmer cooperative or agricultural company. The official is supposed to form a long-term relationship with his counterpart so that he/she will fully understand the rural situation. While this is an admirable strategy, Han's visit is clearly a scripted propaganda exercise intended to boost the spirits of disgruntled villagers and prod local officials to implement agricultural policies.

Minister Han's village is Songshan village in Guizhou's Weining County. Han visited Songshan on his survey. As soon as he got out of the car, he walked into the fields where villagers were working and began chatting about their daily lives.

According to the article, a 64-year-old farmer grabbed Han by the hands and exclaimed, "The rural policies are good; we are connected to water, electricity and roads...I now have old-age insurance and whether I make money or not I can still eat my fill and have clothes to wear!" The old man’s words brought smiles all around.
Han told the farmers that the party's objective is to give farmers a good life through better farming and health. 

He visited the home of a poor couple. The husband has the ironic name of Cheng Rich Country. Han encouraged them to be optimistic and to overcome difficulties as soon as possible. He brought them some money and a quilt.

Several rural development strategies are promoted: encouraging young migrants to return to their villages as entrepreneurs and encouraging companies and cooperatives to modernize agriculture. Minister Han was pleased to hear that a few young people had returned to the village to bring prosperity and dynamism.  Han heard about Cheng Zonghui, a young migrant who returned and set up a livestock cooperative. Two companies invested in vegetable production in the village. A company representative explained how land rights had been transferred (to the company?) Over dinner, Han heard that another farmer's son had gone to junior middle school. Han encouraged the son to study hard and become a "pillar of society."

The article also emphasizes that the Ministry is including young officials in their 20s in the survey teams. Presumably this demonstrates that the party has a vigorous young generation and the youngsters are being educated about the real situation in the countryside.

In the evening, as snow fell, Han met with 10 village cadres and residents to hear about their difficulties and concerns. Han pointed out that close relations between officials and the rural masses was a good tradition of the communist party. Although the village is lagging behind in agriculture, local officials were optimistic and confident.

The article sends a message to provincial and local officials that they had better toe the line. Han is "extremely concerned about spring planting" and pointed out that this year is very significant because it's the first year of the new five-year plan, economic growth is slowing and the country faces inflationary pressure. The ninth "no. 1 document" was issued this year with favorable agricultural policies. Each level of agricultural departments must grasp the importance of grain production, disseminate technology and motivate farmers to plant grain as required by the central authorities. Officials in areas stricken by serious drought are commanded to provide leadership, disseminate technology, implement policies, carry out projects, mitigate drought conditions and work hard to make sure grain production increases.

No comments: