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What Will Make Chinese Agriculture More Productive?

Working Papers

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Chapter 14, pp. 417-449, in Nicholas C. Hope, Dennis Tao Yang, and Mu Yang Li (eds.), How Far Across the River? Chinese Policy Reform at the Millennium

April 2000

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The international community has long recognized China's effort to produce enough food to feed its growing population. Tremendous progress has been achieved in agricultural productivity growth, farmer's income, and poverty alleviation during the reform period. China's experience demonstrates the importance of institutional change, technological development, price and market liberalization, and rural development in improving food security and agricultural productivity in a nation with limited land and other natural resources. While we are interested in farm-sector productivity and rural incomes, in general, most of this article focuses on a narrower set of issues, especially the role of technology in China's food economy. Rural development in China is a complicated process and will require good policies beyond the way the government must manage agriculture technology. Issues of land management, fiscal and financial policy, and many other issues are equally as important. In fact, in a recent conference on land tenure in Beijing, D. Gale Johnson convincingly argued that land reform is critical in promoting economic modernization of both the rural farm and non-farm sectors. We agree. Unfortunately, space limitations preclude us from giving more emphasis to these issues in this paper.

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