SIMPLE FARMING HISTORY OF P.R. CHINA
Trigger of The Reforming in China’s Rural Policies
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.
The Formation of Household Contract Responsibility System
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.
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.
The Household Contract Responsibility System and the Chemical Farming
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.
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.
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.
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.
Difficult for Individual Farmers to Get Connected with the Market
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.
Rustic Life in Green Mountains and Waters is the Dream of Many Chinese People
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.
Get the Farmers to Produce Under the Leadership of the Cooperative
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.
Let the Farmers Develop Their Own Community
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.
Self-sufficient Economy is Aligned with the Small Scale Household Farm
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.
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