Geography Reference
In-Depth Information
in 1949, the CCP gradually established a system of governance based on socialist ideals.
By 1952, private farming was abolished, and a system of collective agriculture involving
communes, brigades, and production teams was instituted; this system became the basis for
economic and social life in rural China for nearly three decades.
collectivized agriculture in several provinces, and when these experiments met with initial
success, agricultural collectives throughout China were rapidly dismantled. By the 1980s,
peasants were subject to the new Household Responsibility System, under which they were
granted land leases on five-year terms, which were extended to fifteen years in 1984 and
thirtyyearsin1993.UndertheHouseholdResponsibility System,peasantsarefreetomake
crop-selection decisions and to sell crops on the market for profit after meeting basic grain-
procurement requirements set by the state (Oi 1999; Selden 1998). This effectively rein-
stituted China's long-standing tradition of smallholder agriculture; all decisions regarding
crop selection, cultivation, and market distribution are made at the household level, and
economic risk within China's rapidly changing market economy is also assumed at the
household level.
Security of future land-tenure rights is a major issue in the Lancang basin and elsewhere
in rural China. In contrast to urban land, which is owned by the central government ( quan-
min suoyou zhi ), rural land rights are vested in rural collectives ( jiti suoyou zhi ) at the level
of township, village, or production cooperative. Individual households are granted certific-
ates that give them use rights but not full ownership rights over two types of land leased
from the rural collective: “responsibility land” ( zeren tian ) and “contract land” ( chengbao
tian ). Responsibility land is allocated to households in exchange for delivery of a grain
quota to the state, whereas contract land is leased to households who wish to expand their
land holdings, often through a bidding process (Swinnen and Rozelle 2006:57; Rozelle et
al. 2005). The collective maintains the right to appropriate land within its jurisdiction when
necessary. Agricultural land may not be bought or sold by individuals, and those who have
invested in infrastructural improvements such as irrigation have no guarantee that they
will ultimately benefit from such investments. The current smallholder system is thus the
product of a combination of factors, including ecological and topographical conditions that
make large-scale, mechanized agriculture difficult, central policy favoring collective land
ownership, and a complex leasing system that makes consolidation practically impossible.
Viewed in the light of China's Reform and Opening policies, the shift to commodity
crops is a rational response to the profit motive created by market liberalization: grain
prices remain under the control of the central government, but nongrain commodity crops
prove a lucrative option forfarmers whocan gauge market demand and adjust their cultiva-
tion practices accordingly. Most farmers welcome any increase in cash income because the
central and provincial governments continue to implement Reform and Opening policies
by pulling back from the provision of key services such as education and health care. The
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