The Chinese Central Government released its first policy document of 2021, known as the “No. 1 document”, on February 21st. This blueprint document is seen as an indicator of policy priorities of the Chinese government. In line with all other previous No. 1 documents in the last 17 years, this year’s document, named ‘Rural Revitalization Strategy Comprehensively Promoted’, again highlights the development of rural areas and the agricultural sector.
According to the latest demographic data, China still has around 600 million people living in rural areas, and this number accounts for around 40% of the total population. Apart from growth and prosperity, China’s impressive development in the past 40 years has created imbalance and a great income gap between rural and urban areas, environmental disruption, less developed infrastructure in rural areas, and insufficient agricultural productivity among farmers.
Photo: a primary school in Daliang Mountains of Sichuan Province, one of the poorest rural areas in China. The Chinese characters written on a mottled wall read “what is the future”
Next to the recent No. 1 document, the National 14th Five-year Plan, which was officially approved by the National People’s Congress on 11 March, was released last October, and several crucial meetings in the national level recently all emphasize the governmental commitment to implementing the Rural Revitalization Strategy. The emphasises on rural area and the agricultural sector are often thought of as Chinese President Xi Jinping’s top mission. Without modernization of the rural areas and the agricultural sector, the ultimate political ambition of Xi, which is to build China into a “basic socialist modern nation”, cannot be achieved in 2035.
In order to stimulate the realization of the agricultural modernization, the document describes the governmental working plan from several perspectives, such as development of the seeds sector, strengthening technology and mechanized equipment for the agricultural sector, building up industrial and business chains in rural areas, and implementation of green development.
A new governmental organization, the National Rural Revitalization Bureau, was also established in the same week to coordinate policies and make sure all instructions from the central government will be implemented.
Influence on the Dutch horticultural sector
Generally speaking, the release of the document confirmed that the agricultural sector remains a priority for the government and rural areas will keep receiving governmental investments and policy support in the next few years. The governmental attention will also influence and steer a flow of private capital into the agricultural sector and rural areas.
As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. The development gap, especially the technical and knowledge gap in the field of horticulture between the Netherlands and China, also cannot be caught up in the short term. It is predictable that foreign equipment and service providers, such as Dutch greenhouse builders and climate computer providers, still have a considerable market share in the next few years.
Apart from existing businesses such as greenhouse construction and greenhouse equipment, other service and equipment providers such as training, cooling logistics solutions and post-harvest processes have the possibility to get more business opportunities, since China aims to build a full industrial agricultural chain.
However, in the long run, since China will develop its own “core technology”, Chinese companies have potential to become a major competitor of the Dutch horticultural sector in both the Chinese domestic market and abroad, especially in other developing countries.
Photo: Chinese growers are working in a fully equipped Dutch style glass greenhouse in Nanhe County, Hebei Province