The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council jointly released Document No. 1 on 13 February 2023. Entitled “Opinions of the State Council on Comprehensively Promoting the Key Work of Rural Revitalization in 2023”, this is the first No. 1 Document to be released since the 20th CPC Congress in 2022.
The global food crisis – exacerbated by war in Ukraine, increasing geo-political tensions, and climate-induced weather events in recent years have made this year’s document even more significant to China agricultural policy watchers. Building an “agriculture superpower”, food security, rural revitalization, preventing a large-scale return to poverty, building affordable housing, and creating employment in rural areas were the major themes tackled in the document. The document includes 9 major sections and 33 chapters. The major highlights of the document are outlined below.
1. Food security
Food security is mentioned six times in the document, more than in any previous No. 1 Document. As in previous years, the document reiterates China’s commitment to produce more than 650 million tons of grains annually. China produced 687 million tons of grains in 2022, which exceeded the redline target.
The document states that a campaign should be mobilized to produce an additional 50 million tons of grains annually to satisfy increasing demand. Multiple crop harvests in southern China should be promoted. A mechanism should be implemented to ensure that provincial and party authorities are accountable for grain output in their area.
Efforts to reduce or substitute soy bean meal in feed grains should be intensified. A diversified agri-food supply chain with diversified import sources should be prioritized. The campaign against food loss and waste should be expanded. Food loss across the entire supply chain should be reduced. Healthy diets should be promoted. Stable pork production should be ensured.
2. Soybean and oil seed plantation expansion
The document proposes to intensify efforts to expand mixed planting of soybean and corn, especially rotational soybean planting in the northeast and Huang-Huai region (i.e. the region of the Yellow River and the Huai River) as well as to support salt-resistant soybean varieties. The document calls for improving subsidy mechanisms for corn and soybean producers and for expanding crop insurance for farmers to cover losses from extreme weather and other unforeseen events. The promotion of large-scale winter oil seed planting is also mentioned.
3. High-quality farmland
The strict control of farmland conversion to other uses should be put in place. Efforts should be made for preparation of a third national soil survey. All-out efforts should be undertaken to convert all permanent basic farmland into high-quality farmland. Measures to protect black soil should be strictly implemented and any destruction of black soil should be punished severely.
4. Rural revitalization and rural infrastructure development
Further improving water and electricity infrastructure in rural areas is a top priority, as per the document. At least 60% of central government funds for rural revitalization should be used to develop rural industries and enterprises.
5. Poverty alleviation
The document stresses the importance of consolidating the achievements of China’s anti-poverty campaign and of preventing a large-scale return to poverty. 30 million rural job opportunities should be maintained in previously poverty-stricken rural areas.
6. Agricultural technology and modernization
According to the document, the National Seed Revitalization Action Plan – first released in 2021 – will be realized. An open, cooperative, and sharable seed resource identification and assessment system should be established. Efforts to develop high-quality seeds for soybean, oil seeds, and corn should be continued.
Research and development in agri-machinery should be intensified and integration of the Beidou navigation system – China’s indigenous navigation technology – into these machines should be supported.
The document also mentions measures for the development of green agriculture, including better agri-waste management and a fishing ban in some rivers, especially the Yangtze.
7. Additional income channels for rural residents
The document states the need to increase rural employment through small and medium enterprises. Authorities in experimental areas will explore the extension of rural land contracts by another 30 years.
8. Village enterprises
Food processing enterprises run by family farms, farm cooperatives, and small and medium enterprises should be supported. Building resilient rural industries and enterprises should be promoted. County and village e-commerce and express logistics should be further improved.
9. Affordable housing, rural employment, and beautiful villages
Efforts will be made to build affordable housing in rural areas and enhance rural infrastructure in order to build beautiful villages, further reducing the development gap between rural and affluent urban areas.
10. Turning China into an "agriculture superpower"
At the press conference for the release of Document No. 1, Tang Renjian, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, stated that the 2023 document not only outlined the major tasks for comprehensively promoting rural revitalization and tackling the three rural issues (san nong wenti 三农问题), but also put forward specific arrangements for turning China into an agriculture superpower.