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Building the West Anew
Building the West Anew
UPDATED: January 18, 2010 NO. 3 JANUARY 21, 2010
Sichuan Prosperity
Ten years of development have allowed Sichuan Province to open to the world


ECONOMIC HIGHWAY: The highway from Xichang to Panzhihua in Sichuan Province was put into use in 2008. Infrastructure played a vital role in propelling economic and social development in the province (ZHANG GUOFANG/CFP) 

Lin Shunsheng, a farmer from Sichuan Province who owns the use right to his land, likes to think of himself as his own boss. But Lin is no longer the highest authority entitled to the land use, despite the fact that he has owned the use right for his plot of land since 1978 when the household contract responsibility system was implemented.

Differing from their ancestors, Lin and fellow farmers in his town in Jiangjiayan County, a suburb of Chengdu, Sichuan Province, now plant what they are told to plant. The farming methods are also pre-determined by another authority.

And many farmers seem content with the transition of the use right.

The change is one of many that have provided assistance to various industrial and social sectors in Sichuan, thanks to the government's Western Development Strategy launched in 2000.

Farming policies were changed in 2006 when Lin's planting right was acquired by a local agricultural cooperative.

The agricultural cooperative provides seeds, pesticides, tools, fertilizers and technical support to the farmers and in return receives produce from them.

Although his income did not dramatically increase as a result of the acquisition, Lin is still satisfied with the turnover.

"Now I don't need to worry about the climate too much, since the cooperative will pay as agreed no matter how bad the harvest could be," said Lin.

To date, 90 percent of the 200 hectares of arable land in Jiangjiayan County is under the management of agricultural cooperative, according to Zhou Ping, Deputy Director of General Affairs Division at the Sichuan Provincial Development and Reform Commission.

"It helps ensure stable income for farmers," he said.

Sichuan, China's major agricultural producer of grain, vegetable and pork, reaped substantial benefits from the strategy, which established a series of policies concerning agricultural development and provided financial support to farmers.

According to the Sichuan Provincial Government, Sichuan ranked first among the 12 provinces and autonomous regions in west China regarding the output of major agricultural products including grain and vegetable in the last 10 years, which has been attributed to agricultural standardization, intensification and scale production.

At the same time, various farmers' cooperatives grew to 18,678, involving more than 54.4 percent of Sichuan's farmers.

Moreover, Sichuan's gross output from agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry and fishery totaled 390.3 billion yuan ($57.4 billion) in 2008, 2.7 times higher than that of 1999, according to the Sichuan Provincial Bureau of Statistics.

"The policies launched by governments at various levels vibrantly improved the comprehensive agricultural productivity and propelled the stable development in rural areas by increasing agricultural output and farmers' incomes," said Zhou.

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