09 Nov 2012

“Elder agriculture” and urbanization in China


It was reported by Xinhua News that “elder agriculture” has become one of the main issues in China’s agricultural production. At present, as most of the young labour move from countryside to big cities, the average age of agricultural labour force is over 50 years old in the country. For example in Anhui province, only 1/3 of rural labour works on farming. In some economic developed regions such as Shanghai, the farmers’ average age is close to 60 years old.

The "elder agriculture" results in three main problems:
    1. the plan of agricultural production/operation always be delayed;
    2. more and more traditional intensive cultivation practices be replaced by “lazy” practices;
    3. these poor educated farmers is hard to receive/use new technology and new farming equipments.

To solve this problem, some ways were recommended:
    1. develop intensive/large farming system to reduce labour demand;
    2. promoting the mechanization of farming;
    3. recommend new technology for improving farming efficiency.


With a number of the countryside labour move to cities, the urbanization in China developed quickly in recent years. In Hubei province, for example, the ratio of urbanization would increase from 47% in recent years to 52% in next five years. Over three million rural population will move to the cities. All of these changes will greatly push the development of intensive farming and mechanization in China in near future.

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