The Central Rural Work Conference was held from Dec. 23 to 24, 2022 in Beijing. This annual event outlines the direction for agricultural policies for the coming new year and the priorities for the upcoming No.1 Document. In his speech, General Secretary Xi Jinping stressed the importance of building an “agriculture superpower” (农业强国) which is a perquisite to “become a superpower and create a beautiful life for the people”. Xi’s emphasis on building an agriculture superpower reflects China’s aim to be become more self-reliant in food production in the face of domestic and external challenges such as negative impacts of climate induced weather events on agriculture, global food crisis and increasing geopolitical tensions.
Food security is considered as the utmost affair of the nation and holding the red line of 120 million hectares of arable land continues to be a priority. The conference suggested that China should increase its grain production by 50 million tons next year. Premier Li Keqiang even proposed that China should aim for 700-750 million tons of annual grain production (corresponding to an increase by 10-15% compared to 2022) with a reasonable action plan. In order to achieve this target, it was suggested to convert all permanent basic farmlands gradually into high quality farmlands at some point in the future. Furthermore, it was pointed out that the seed sector would help increase the production by cultivating new varieties. The meeting also stated that through the “greater food concept”, which refers to a new view of the food supply, moving on from an emphasis on grain production to include food diversity, nutrition, and health (for more on greater food concept refer to DCZ terminology paper by Boehme, 2022), the diversified food supply chain should be established.
The meeting also discussed rural revitalization which would include revitalizing the production, talent, culture, ecology and organizational governance, also dubbed as “Five Revitalizations”. The meeting suggested that developing local products and integration of various sectors in rural areas could play a positive role in rural revitalization. The meeting also stressed that by all efforts previously poverty-stricken rural regions should be prevented from returning to poverty. The conference concluded that increasing the rural income should be at the center of three rural affairs (San Nong) which refers to agriculture, rural areas and farmers (for more about San Nong refer to DCZ terminology paper by Lu, 2021).
The role of science & technology and agricultural modernization in these efforts is essential. As last year, the conference suggested that the innovation in seed and breeding development will unlock potentials for increasing agricultural productivity and resilience. In addition, Xi proposed to establish a multi-level agricultural science & technology innovation system. The focus lies on digital technology, smart farming and e-commerce to achieve food security, rural revitalization and poverty alleviation goals.
Vice-premier Hu Chunhua, who is in charge of rural affairs, further mentioned strengthening COVID-19 control measures and improvement of medical care in rural areas in the wake of relaxation in Zero Covid-19 policy in late 2022.
The draft document “Opinions of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council on Comprehensively Promoting the Key Work of Rural Revitalization in 2023” which will be known as No.1 Document was also discussed at the conference. The document is expected to be released 2-3 weeks after the Chinese New Year in 2023.
Michaela Boehme (2022). Terminology paper on big food. https://www.dcz-china.org/2022/11/16/terminology-paper-da-shiwuguan-greater-food-view/
Yuelai Lu (2021). Terminology paper on Sannong. https://www.dcz-china.org/2021/11/11/terminology-san-nong-wenti/