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Eco-agriculture to lend support to poverty reduction, rural revival

LU HANG | 2018-01-11
(Chinese Social Sciences Today)

Tourists pick strawberries at a greenhouse of an ecological picking garden in Wuqiang County, Hebei Province. In recent years, the county has developed ecological agriculture to help farmers shake off poverty.



 

The ninth China Community Supported Agriculture Conference was recently held in Tongren, Guizhou Province. The event gathered representatives from an array of fields, such as farmers, scholars and government officials to discuss ways to alleviate poverty and revitalize villages through agriculture.


The massive flow of migrants from villages to urban areas does not necessarily mean that rural society will fall further behind. It is crucial to improve villagers’ living standards and sense of happiness before achieving rural revival. Currently, agricultural supply-side structural reform requires higher-quality products while China’s grain output remains stable.


Xiao Wenhai, deputy director of the Research Center for Ecological Civilization at Jiangxi University of Finance and Economics, said that college students and youth return to villages and form a group of new farmers. They can revitalize rural areas by developing ecological agriculture to meet urban demand, which contributes to China’s agricultural supply-side structural reform.


Ecological agriculture is also relevant to public health. Consumers purchase products and promote the development of ecological agriculture, said Zhou Zejiang, chairman of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements Asia. At the same time, villagers grow organic agricultural products, protect the environment and promote public health. Ecological agriculture facilitates the interaction between villages and urban areas.


At present, the central controversy of China’s agricultural structure is the mismatch between demand and supply, which is embodied by simultaneous increases in output, import and storage of grain. Zhou Li, a professor from Renmin University of China, suggested that this is the result of a lack of quality and effective supply, which requires the support of production methods and structure. In this context, sustainable green agriculture should be advocated.


Xiao suggested focusing on the environment of distressed areas and commercializing ecological products. Natural resources can be operated as a fourth sector, thus combining environmental protection, sustainable resource utilization and poverty reduction.


Ecological poverty alleviation and green consumption are effective ways to implement agricultural supply-side structural reform and promote ecological progress. Xing Dongtian, project director of food security at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the solution aids in the transition from a resource-intensive pattern of rural development to one that emphasizes environmental sustainability and product quality. It allows transparent pricing of ecological products because it directly connects producers and consumers while dramatically reducing transportation costs. Also, it can improve the environment and optimize the structure of agricultural products, thus realizing green consumption. In addition, it creates jobs, expands domestic demand and promotes economic development.


In terms of implementation, Xing suggested building bases of ecological poverty reduction in urban communities as a marketing channel. These bases will drive the healthy development of ecological agriculture and tackle issues concerning agricultural pollution and food security, thus achieving a win-win situation.


China’s community-supported agriculture has grown rapidly since 2008. Production and consumption under this model involves hundreds of thousands of households. The China Association for Community Supported Agriculture was established by the Center for Rural Construction at Renmin University of China with the goal of advancing ecological agriculture and improving cooperative interaction between famers and consumers. The commonweal organization has made tremendous achievements in domestic ecological agriculture.