context: A long-standing concern, food security received more attention than ever at this year’s CRWC (Central Rural Work Conference), as international tensions, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and extreme weather events are testing Beijing’s ability to guarantee the stable supply of primary products. Stabilising ag production and promoting rural development go hand in hand in Beijing’s efforts to insulate the nation from external risk and stimulate domestic growth.

The annual CRWC, held in Beijing from 25-26 Dec 2021, discussed major policy directives for agricultural and rural development in 2022. In a speech to top Party and government officials as well as industry stakeholders, Xi Jinping 习近平 renewed calls to safeguard the nation’s grain supply and promote rural development. The speech reiterated Xi’s mantra of keeping the Chinese rice bowl firmly within the nation’s own hands and urged policymakers to prevent a relapse of rural regions into poverty, according to a readout published in Farmers’ Daily. The meeting highlighted the significance of agriculture, farmers and rural areas to economic and social stability.

Core ag tasks highlighted at the conference include

  • protecting the farmland ‘red line’ of 120 million ha
  • building 66.7 million ha of high-quality farmland
  • expanding production of soybeans and oilseeds
  • improving shared responsibility mechanisms between provincial governors and Party secretaries
  • establishing a ‘vegetable basket’ responsibility system to ensure the secure supply of non-grain ag products such as vegetables and meat
  • ensuring the stable supply of ag inputs such as fertilisers and energy
  • promoting R&D of core ag tech such as food provenance tracing, advanced ag machinery and high-tech greenhouses
  • mobilising farmers’ enthusiasm to grow grain
  • stabilising pig production

In addition to food security related tasks, efforts are needed to bolster rural revitalisation. The conference called for

  • preventing a relapse into poverty
  • improving rural governance and the rural living environment, as well as rural infrastructure and public services
  • strengthening support to key counties threatened by poverty
  • improving monitoring and assistance mechanisms
  • boosting rural industries and building complete ag value chains that integrate production, processing and marketing
  • promoting integrated development of urban and rural areas
  • implementing new platforms to promote rural cultural life and resolve rural conflicts

Top officials speaking at the conference included premier Li Keqiang 李克强 and vice-premier Hu Chunhua 胡春华. The meeting was chaired by Xiao Jie 肖捷 State Council secretary-general.

The meeting also discussed a draft version of next year’s No. 1 policy document, setting policy priorities for ag and rural development in 2022, according to Farmers’ Daily.