Other Chinas- A simple farming history of China by Fred Young

从“小岗村包产到户”到“适度规模家庭农场”

SIMPLE FARMING HISTORY OF P.R. CHINA

安徽自发出现乡村改革触发点

Trigger of The Reforming in China’s Rural Policies

Photo of the statues of the farmers meeting
Oath signed by the farmers at the secret meeting in 1978

这是中国历史上关于农民最重要的两张照片之一了:1978年11月24日深夜,18名小岗村(安徽省凤阳县)农民召开秘密会议,包产到户(土地分给农户自己管理生产)–如果带头的干部因此遭遇不幸,参与的社员负责将干部的小孩抚养到18岁。

To Chinese farmers, these two photos are historical. In 1978, 18 farmers of a village in Anhui Province signed a oath that they would allocate the land of the collective to individual farmer households so that the individual farmer households would work on their own instead of as a community which had been officially assigned by the central government.

农村联产承包责任制形成

The Formation of Household Contract Responsibility System

Photo of the Parade with the slogan for Household contract responsability system

这份简单的“协议书”却开创了中国农村的一个历史时期– 家庭联产承包责任制:由生产任务承担者对其生产成果负责并按实际产量或产值获得收入。

This oath started the history in China so called Household Contract Responsibility System. The farmer households worked for themselves separately instead of the collective working system which was started from the foundation of People’s Republic of China in 1949. So the farmer households planned their own production and earned what they harvested from their labor work.

家庭联产承包责任制极大地调动农民积极性,全国各地农村涌现了通过各种专业户生产先富起来的“万元户”。

The Household Contract Responsibility System immediately became great incentives to Chinese farmers. Many farmers started up their own farming projects and became rich models of rural China.

家庭联产承包责任制与化工工业化农业

The Household Contract Responsibility System and the Chemical Farming

Farmer spraying chemical pesticides

西方化工农业几乎与“家庭联产承包责任制”同时进入中国,化工农业用化学农药、肥料等模式大大降低了人力劳动强度,减轻了生产负担,大大提高了农民的劳动效率,所以极其受到农民的欢迎而迅速在全国农村得到普及。然而农民并没有对化工农业对食品的品质和环境等方面的负面影响有任何了解–因为政府也在积极推进化工农业,独立的农户没有任何渠道获取如何正确使用农药化肥的方法,更不用说保护环境了,农民是处于“无组织、无纪律”的“自由生产”状态。这直接导致了农药化肥(后期出现更多的生长调节剂、膨大剂、催熟剂、着色增添剂等等)在中国耕地上大量滥用,产生严重的土壤和环境污染,也带来了食品的安全问题。

When the The Household Contract Responsibility System started in China in the 1980es, chemical farming was also introduced to China. Chemical fertilizers,pesticides almost liberated the farmers from the hard labor work, which got the Chinese farmers excited. Swiftly the chemical farming practices swept across all rural China, making them give up the conventional farming practices inherited from their ancestry. As all the farmer households were separate individual units, none was taught the harm of chemicals or how to use them properly. And so the farmers became addict to the chemicals and used them under their own imagination, causing the severe pollution to the soil and the environment and finally led to the food safety problems.

食品安全问题、农民贫困问题等等让中国新一届政府进行更多反思,决心进行更加深入的改革,李克强总理提出了“适当规模”和“家庭农场”的概念。这似乎又是中国农村的改革进入一个新时期的标志。

Food safety problems, poverty in rural China and more together have made the new Chinese government think of further reforming in the rural policies. And the Chinese central government headed by Premier Li Keqiang introduced the system of appropriate scale household farm, which seems to herald a new epoch of China’s rural policies.

Graphic for the changes of Rural Policies of China

对于“家庭农场”的概念我是很赞成的,特别是在中国广大的山区农村,小型“家庭农场”很适合这里的实际情况。“家庭农场”实质上是在“家庭联产承包责任制”基础上更好地与市场经济相结合。这是我自2008年从上海回到湖南怀化雪峰山深山老家从事农业以来亲身的体会。以下是我总结几个看法。

Based on my work in ecological farming in the past 10 years, I applaud the new system of small scale household farm. I think it perfectly fits in the context of the rural areas especially in the mountainous areas. My points of summery for that subject are as follows.

中国山区处于基本“手工农业”状态:一是由于地形所致,大部分农业机械无用武之地;而是这里的土地都是分散状态,多数在群山之中;三是山区的农民骨子里有“自给自足”小农生产的习惯。

In China’s mountainous areas, labor work is still the dominating way of farming because of the landscapes and the farmers’ lifestyle of self-sustain model which they have acquired from their parents. Hence, the scale of the farms are limited to small.

单一农户很难与市场对接

Difficult for Individual Farmers to Get Connected with the Market

Working in the field on the mountains

但是在现有的市场经济条件下,这样的“小农”实在难以单个持续下去,他们必须得与市场对接起来才能获得与现代社会同发展的机会: 单个农户的生产能力有限,无法形成足够的规模产业来与市场对接—-譬如农户每天能生产10只上好的鸡蛋,但是这些鸡蛋无法变成经济收入,因为把这些鸡蛋拿到城市市场去卖连自己花的车费都不够,更别说市场是否接受、花时间去卖鸡蛋这样的事了;因为单户生产“无组织、无纪律”,所以即使是有多户生产同样一个产品也会因为产品“无纪律”-没有品质控制-而无法被市场所接受。也正是因为如此,中国目前14个特困连片区绝大部分都是大山地区。

Yet it is very difficult for these small farmers to survive the marketing economy as they have to get connected to the market to get the chance for catching up with the time. A separate individual farmer household can’t harvest enough of a product to sell to the market. For example, a farmer household may gain 10 high-quality eggs but it takes more fare than the value of the eggs to go to the market, let alone the risk of price or time it takes for the farmer. Moreover, as the farmer households are separate from each other, they will follow no regulations but what they think themselves. Hence, quality control is a big problem and that makes it difficult for the market to accept the products. There are 14 clusters of poverty in China which are granted by the central government. Majority of these 14 clusters are mountainous areas.

青山绿水、田园牧歌的理想是众多中国人心中的梦想

Rustic Life in Green Mountains and Waters is the Dream of Many Chinese People

Gains of a farmer from his hens

然而这里的青山绿水在目前却成了市场上的“稀缺资源”,与“自给自足”式的“手工农业”相结合就更加显得珍稀难得。它不只是在安全食品上满足当前民众对于健康的追求需求,同时也是中国人骨子里“田园梦”的源泉。经历几千年的文化传承(中国历史中大部分时间是“重农轻商”的格局)“采菊东篱下,悠然见南山”类似表达的田园生活方式深入人心,而这种潜意识的根源也许就是这种“自给自足”的小农生活方式。

The green waters and mountains are now the treasures on the market. When those are integrated with the farmers self-sustain small scale farming life style, the model becomes of more value as that will first meet the growing demand for high-quality safe produces and it also satisfies Chinese people’s dream of rustic life which has been interpreted in many Chinese poems. And that dream of rustic life originated from the self-sustain small farming life.

让农民“有组织、有纪律”进行生产

Get the Farmers to Produce Under the Leadership of the Cooperative

Farmer’s cooperative

山区农户小型“家庭农场”离不开“有组织、有纪律”,必须有一个强有力的组织来将农户团结到一起,在“纪律”的约束下进行生产,将各个小小的“家庭农场”这“涓涓细流”汇聚起来形成一条江河通向市场。

The working force of the small scale household farms have to be united into a body to produce under assigned standards so that they can get connected with the market. After that aggregation, there becomes the quality control and the production scale to be able to face the market in the cities.

让农民自己的组织来引导农民社区的发展

Let the Farmers Develop Their Own Community

任何商业机构与农民谈合作的事情是一种利益博弈:商业机构关注的焦点是自己的赢利问题,而农民关注的也是如何让自己用最轻松的付出甚至没有付出从商业机构处获取最大的利益。这种博弈使二者的取向背道而驰,就像拔河,中间的绳子随时都可能因为彼此给予的压力而绷断,持续发展会经常面临挑战。

我2008年回到老家做农业,跟大部分人一样租赁了一篇土地按照自己的计划开始生产,但是发现面临的挑战非常多,仅仅是农民雇工的劳动积极性问题,就足以成为吞没投资的黑洞。例如一天能完成的工作量,三天才完成,农民自己轻松还可以多拿到工资,而这样的效率很可能造成错过季节;错过季节就意味着失去了一年的收入机会,资金成本、机会成本都需要商业机构来承担。

让农民自己组织合作协会,他们自己共同商量解决生产生活中所遇到的问题。有了农民自己的主动性就有了效率和农业最好的保险。农民的自主和主动性是关键。

Commercial connections with the farmers mean competitions. Namely, the commercial organizations focus on profits only and will definitely compete against the farmers on price to gain as much as possible while at the same time the farmers also care about the cash income over all other topics. The strain of the competition is always between the two sides and the link may be broken anytime.

My experience of running the farm for the past 10 years tells me all that. There is the trap of abyss just to mention hiring farmers to work for you. The efficiency of work is a big problem as they would spend maybe 3 folds the time really needed because the work would be easier for them and also they can get more wages. The efficiency will result in the failure of planting the seeds in the right time and so there is more potential loss in that.

Let the farmers organize themselves into one organization so they can discuss issues and find the solutions. Farmers’ self-motivation is essential to the best efficiency of work.

“适足经济”与小型“家庭农场”相适应

Self-sufficient Economy is Aligned with the Small Scale Household Farm

A village by Yuanjiang river in Hunan Province

大家一直在号召的是“要尽快做大做强”。确实农业的盈利空间实在太小,对于企业来说如果没有规模的话是无法实现盈利。那么这个“大”要多大才能“强”呢?世界四大粮食托拉斯(即美国ADM、美国邦吉、美国嘉吉、法国路易达孚)这样的巨无霸是够强大独领风骚全球,因为他们基本垄断了粮食市场和与许多粮食相关的市场。咱

们一个农民协会做得再大,粮食市场的定价和粮食生产相关的定价(种子、化肥等等)都掌握在这些大机构手中,盈利的空间可想而知。可见这种“做大做强”的口号对于咱们山区的农业来说是值得商榷的。

“适足经济”符合中国山区手工农业发展现状。在我看来,“适足农业”可以解释“小农自给自足”经济。现时代的“自给自足”,表现为“供给自己大部分生活之用之外,将富余的产品出售获得现金收入,换回工业化生活产品。”这种模式从经济上来看是精妙的,多种收入渠道(鸡鸭鹅猪牛等加上粮油蔬果等)分散了风险。如果哪一年价格行情或者天灾对鸡不利,那么还有其它渠道的收入保证当年农民不会颗粒无收(譬如禽流感让活禽市场完全停止交易将近一个季度,结果养鸡专业户的鸡蛋和鸡都无法卖出,造成了不小损失,肯定亏损。)农民收入渠道多了,收入也会积少成多。再则农民习惯于这种生产和生活模式:养些动物搞些农家有机肥料,富余的粮食和蔬菜等给动物作为饲料,形成了一个完整的生态循环。

In China you can always hear the calling up for expanding to be a giant company to become strong. And for agriculture-related businesses to some extent it is true because the margin for profits in this field is lower than other industries. Yet it is still worth some further arguments on the scale that could be regarded as big enough. I assume the big scale can’t be achieved by just some farmer households united in a certain area.

The so called self-sufficient economy may be aligned well with the farming practices in mountainous rural China areas. The self-sufficient economy sounds to me in current times could be interpreted as that the farmer households produce most products for their own families while in the meantime by improving the working efficiency they can produce more to sell the cities and buy the industrial products to improve their living standards. They generally raise some animals and from that get the organic fertilizer to grow other crops. The animals also eat the crops that can’t be sold. By doing that, the farmer household has gained several income channels and if one of the channels fail to earn them the cash income, others still work and help them sustain to the next years. There is also a find ecological circulation in it as well. So the farmers need to buy little from outside including chemical pesticides or chemical fertilizer.

Farmer’s start-up Farming area in Hunan Province

我相信,农民自发组织的农协和农民合作支持小农“适足经济”会成长起来。未来市场在相当长时间内(也许会一直是)工业农业占据主角,因为那样才能养活越来越大的人口数。但是,小农也有自己的发展空间:第一,部分中国人会追求生态的农产品,(5%的家庭的话,也有几千万人口之众),像“城乡桥”这样的业态,有生存的基础和发展的必要。第二, 中国人长期以来“小农经济”生产模式的影响不会立刻消失,还是会有不少务农者会追求这种生产模式。从近年来不少人(我自己也是其中一员)回乡做新农人的情况,可以窥见一斑。

I believe in China that the self-sufficient economy based on the farmers’ self-motivated cooperatives will grow although the industrialized farming may be the dominating role. My reasons for that are first of all more of the Chinese population tend to be aware of the importance of healthy and ecological food, which sets up the market base for the sustainable small scale farming in China, and secondly the small scale household farming style is a life style that is recognized and even dreamed of by many Chinese people. Happily, there are more and more young people returning to the land from the cities and I am one of them who left Shanghai for the home village deep in the distant mountains in 2008.

Fred Young for Vivereliquido.it