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China: Importance of Agriculture Recognized
Country Study > Chapter 6 > Agriculture > Agricultural Policies > Importance of Agriculture Recognized


Faced with this depression, the country's leaders initiated policies to strengthen the agricultural sector. The government increased incentives for individual and collective production, decentralized certain management functions, and expanded the role of private plots and markets. The people's commune system was reorganized so that production teams with 20 to 30 households and 90 to 140 people owned most of the assets, accounted for profits or losses, made economic decisions, and distributed income. Most important, the leadership embarked on policies designed to put "agriculture first" in planning, at least in principle. This meant more modern inputs for the countryside. Chemical fertilizer production and imports increased. Modern high-yielding seed varieties began to be developed. Irrigation facilities -- many of which had been washed out during disastrous floods in 1959-61 -- were repaired and expanded, and the government began to provide more mechanical pumps and other irrigation equipment.

These improvements were not haphazard; most were focused on more advanced and productive areas. The intent was to build areas of modernized agriculture with high and stable yields that would form the basis for more stable agricultural production. In general, the places designated as "high- and stable-yield areas" were those with adequate irrigation and drainage, so that the payoff for greater use of fertilizer and new seeds would be higher.

Data as of July 1987

Last Updated: July 1987

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for China was first published in 1987. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

China Main Page Country Studies Main Page

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