The value of farming

Since I now live in a regional area (when I am in China), I meet farmers like this everyday. Only a few minutes’ walk away is a local market, where I buy fresh fruit and vegetables, beans, spices, and freshly made tofu. These photographs come from Sichuan, but you can see similar scenes all across China. They concern a special early morning bus route for farmers so they can get to the markets with relative ease.

10 thoughts on “The value of farming

  1. I love that photo of the smiling farmers on the bus! 🙂
    Nice to see the ‘real’ China, instead of the version pumped out by the western media.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. They do tend to smile a lot and farming people in these parts at least have no hesitation in coming up to me and asking questions about my bicycle, where I am from and so on. They were, after all, the core of the communist revolution.

  2. I’ve always wondered about those red armbands emblazoned with Chinese script worn by some police officers and civilians. What exactly do they signify? What do these people do?

    1. There are many levels of public security and assistance in China, from citizen groups to the police themselves. They ensure that China is one of the safest countries in the world, day and night. You can walk about anywhere and at any time and feel perfectly at ease.

  3. Dr. Boer,

    I promise this will be a more intelligent question and relevant to the subject matter of this post.

    There was an article that appeared in the New York Times, written by Ian Johnson, that documented a growing number of farmers in the Xiaoxihe region demanding the right to privately own land. According to them, not having the legal right to do so prevents them from accumulating wealth through buying, selling or renting plots to create economically viable larger tracts or using it as collateral to raise more capital than they’re currently able to, and that this is exacerbating the wealth gap that still exists between the city and countryside. Is there anything to this story? Are more and more farmers disgruntled with the state ownership of land?

    On the surface, it would seem that the Chinese government would regard privatizing land as a step backward but they’re also interested in doing what’s pragmatic; i.e. what will optimally generate the highest rate of economic growth.

    What’s your take on this as someone with likely more inside knowledge of China than a New York Times reporter?


    1. I can answer the question as a Chinese. No, the Chinese government will never allow the privatization of any land. However, I feel like they will allow the sublease of land among rural populations (since all the land in China is leased by the state.). They are worried about urban riches buying up rural lands to exploit the farmers.

      1. Li Xinghe, you are 100 percent correct. One of the myths about the ‘privatisation’ of land in the countryside after the Reform and Opening Up began is that it abolished collective ownership. The situation is that each village owns the land collectively and makes decisions about what will be done with it, so that creative initiatives can be undertaken.
        And we should remember that the first point in the Communist Manifesto is the abolition of private property land (such private property is one of the strangest ideas ever developed by human beings), which would do away with speculation in land. The Chinese government remains committed to this position.

  4. Thank you both for your responses. The point about wealthy city-dwellers buying up all the land and impoverishing the surviving peasantry was a point the New York Times article omitted. Also, given China’s history, it would be a scandalously reactionary move, going against the long-term Communist goal of not only abolishing private property but also the contradiction between town and country.

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