文 | 闵庆文 曹幸穗
编辑 | 杨海霞
Rural Revitalization: A Global Issue
It is well known that the widening gap between urban and rural areas and the decline of rural areas are the realities together with China's rapid development.
With the development of industrialization and urbanization, the urban expansion and rural decline perform at the same time. The trend is that rural labor forces are transferring from agricultural to non-agricultural industries and some of farmers move to towns from countryside. The direct manifestation of this process is the "excessive" outflow of rural resources and/or elements which weaken the necessary human, material, financial, and gathering forces for agricultural and rural development. The typical evidences are the “hollow phenomenon“ in rural areas and the“aging trend”of agricultural forces. Besides, there are also other important issues existing in the rural areas liking the slow development of rural industries, the diminishing of traditional rural culture, the deterioration of rural eco-environment, and the loss of talents.
In fact, not only in China, the world also faces the challenges. According to scientific reports, most countries are constantly promoting urban expansion to stimulate economic development and improve the living standards of the people, which are corresponding to the constant decline in the vitality of rural development. This is true in both developed and developing countries. In a sense, rural decline is a common challenge facing the world, and rural revitalization is a common task facing the world.
Japan may be a good example. In the 1960s, with the rapid growth of Japanese economy, rural labors constantly flowed to cities and many rural areas declined, which mainly embodies as the aging and part-time employment of rural labors, the decreasing number of villages, the almost stagnation of rural economy, the shortage of agricultural successors, and the widely spreading farmlands abandonment. The gap between urban and rural areas has been widened.
In order to solve these problems, Japan launched the rural revitalization campaign in 1960s and started a so-called new village movement in the late 1970s. All these efforts aimed at revitalizing industries as a measure to promote local economic development and to revitalize the declining rural areas.
In October 18th, 2017, Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, put forward “Rural Revitalization Strategy” during his report at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. On December 29th, 2017, the Central Conference on Rural Work further proposed to take the road of socialist countryside revitalization with Chinese characteristics and clarify the objectives, tasks and timetables for the implementation of the Rural Revitalization Strategy.
On March 8th, 2018, General Secretary Xi Jinping emphasized that the implementation of the Rural Revitalization Strategy "a great decision deployment made by the 19th National Congress of the CPC", "a big article" and "a comprehensive plan and scientific advancement are necessary" during the First Session of the 13th National People’s Congress. He further summarized "FIVE Revitalizations” which include rural industrial revitalization, rural talent revitalization, rural cultural revitalization, rural ecological revitalization, and rural organizational revitalization.
Agricultural Heritage Systems: “Gene Bank” for Rural Revitalization
Over 5,000 years of nomadic and farming history, Chinese ancestors have created brilliant agricultural civilization which still play an important role in current agricultural and rural development and in the future. These precious Agricultural Heritage Systems, existing in China and also in other places of the world, have crucial meaning for the social progress, cultural inheritance, and livelihood support to local people.
In 2002, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) launched an initiative of "Global Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)". China is the earliest responder, successful practitioner, key promoter and main contributor.
"Agricultural Heritage Systems", a new type of heritage with some characteristics of dynamic, systemic, and multi-functional, are a living, evolving system of human communities in an intricate relationship with their territory, cultural or agricultural landscape or biophysical and wider social environment.
In Agricultural Heritage Systems, there are abundant biologic, technological, and cultural "genes" which has vital practical significance for the implementation of Rural Revitalization Strategy.
For example, simplification of crop varieties is a global problem and produces a series of negative impacts: easy to break out a wide range of sudden pests and diseases or other biological disasters, hard to meet the diverse needs from different consumers and hard to meet people's increasing demand for the functional characteristics of agricultural products. Conservation and development of Agricultural Heritage Systems help to adhere to the diversified direction of agricultural breeding, to overcome the breeding tendency of excessive pursuit of yield-oriented, to keep the standard of high-quality, characteristic and localization during breeding, to form the advantage of remarkable local characteristics on agriculture and products’quality, and to take full use of the varieties resources of high-quality or geographical indication certification.
So-called modern agricultural development models, characterized by over-use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, have caused soil degradation, environmental pollution and fertility decline, and thus promoted the worldwide development of eco-agricultural practices. Agricultural Heritage Systems could be called as“zero-pollution agriculture”or“zero-emission agriculture”since no waste could discharge into the environment during its process of both production and utilization, achieving a comprehensive, cyclic, and green utilization of waste. In China, there are many successful examples of eco-agriculture such as Mulberry-dyke & Fish-pond System, Rice-Fish Culture System, Agroforestry and Agro-animal Husbandry System.
The sustainable agricultural development has been widely recognized in the world. In order to adjust the agricultural structure to be “quality improving & greener”, we could draw lessons from the fine tradition of China’s Agricultural Heritage Systems. A large number of excellent varieties of crops have been bred in the history of China which has significant meaning in the current “quantity keeping & quality improving” structural adjustment. When the adjustment comes to the cultivation techniques, we should stick to the traditional green techniques, using green manure to fertilize the field, using stable manure to fertilize the crop, which helps to decrease the waste from field and improve the quality of crop. Also, we adopt biological control technology to develop traditional Chinese medicine agriculture, which could effectively avoid the impact of chemical synthetic fertilizers and biological hormones on the quality of agricultural products. We should advocate for the planting way of traditional eco-agriculture, aiming to reduce environmental pollution and to ensure the quality and safety of agricultural products, thus to realize the green development goals, containing agriculture, products and rural area.
The folk culture, as an important part of both Agricultural Heritage Systems and Chinese excellent traditional culture, is of great significance to the inheritance of farming culture and the harmony of rural society.
The farming culture is the material and cultural basis for the development of China's 5000-year civilization. It is an important part of the excellent traditional Chinese culture. It is also a significant cultural source for building the spiritual home for Chinese nation and uniting the Chinese people and their descendants. Agricultural Heritage Systems, with thousands of years’ existence, is an essential part of Chinese culture and a model of harmonious coexistence between human and nature.
Agricultural Heritage Systems Sites: Best Demonstration Region for Rural Revitalization Strategy
Since the Qingtian Rice-Fish Culture System in Zhejiang Province was designated as GIAHS site by FAO in 2005, China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) have made great efforts and obtained remarkable achievements in conservation and development of agricultural heritage systems. At present, China not only ranks first in the world with the number of 15 GIAHS sites, MARA has released four batches of China-NIAHS sites, containing 91 sites covering 104 counties or districts. Some remarkable characteristics of these areas can be clearly summarized.
Firstly, these areas generally have weak infrastructure and backward economic development. Among the 104 counties or districts, more than 40 belong to “The National Key Poor Country”, where are the key areas for the implementation of Targeted Poverty Alleviation. Even in eastern areas such as Qingtian County, rural infrastructure construction and agricultural economy are lagging behind due to the bad conditions of "Nine Mountains-Half Water-Half Field" area distribution.
Secondly, these areas generally have fragile ecosystems and abundant biological resources. Most designated NIAHS sites are located in high plateau, mountainous area, depression, dry land, water source protection areas and so on, where the ecosystem are fragile whereas the ecosystem services are vital. At the same time, these areas not only retain the unique local agricultural species resources such as field fish in Qingtian, purple rice in Hani terraces, Xianghe glutinous rice in Congjiang, Longxiang taro in Xinghua, all these are also have high biodiversity.
Thirdly, these areas generally have abundant traditional knowledge and comprehensive technical system. Relatively less impacted by modern technologies, many NIAHS sites still retain the traditional knowledge and technologies of agricultural production and resource management. There are not only typical eco-agricultural models like Mulberry-dyke & Fish-pond System, Rice-Fish Culture System, Agroforestry, but also resources protection and utilization technology like woodcut water splitting and Karez well.
Fourthly, these areas generally have abundant cultural resources and beautiful rural landscapes. The saying that "Agricultural culture is the root of Chinese culture" is particularly prominent in Agricultural Heritage Systems sites. There exist a large number of national and even world intangible cultural heritage in Agricultural Heritage Systems sites, such as Fish Lantern Dance in Qintian, Kam Grand Choirs in Congjiang, Seasonal Production Tune in Honghe. Apart from these, in Agricultural Heritage Systems sites, there are many distinct regional food cultures, such as dried Field Fish Fried Vermicelli in Qingtian, Nine-layer Rice Cake in Congyi and so on. Besides, fine scenery of rural landscapes in Agricultural Heritage sites is impressive, such as prefect rice terraces landscape composed of forest-village-terraces-river system, duotian landscape, ancient Chinese Torreya forest, ancient mulberry tree forest as well as ancient jujube garden.
Fifthly, these areas generally have large population whereas a shortage of talent resource. It is an obvious characteristic of Agricultural Heritage Systems sites that there are limited farmland, large population, few talent and abundant labor resources. To resolve the condition, we should focus on the promotion of urbanization, implement of labor transfer and improvement of labor force quality
Based on the above, in Agricultural Heritage Systems sites, making full use of the advantages of resources and "backwardness" to realize the "Five Revitalization" should be considered.
In the aspect of industrial revitalization, we should focus on the convergence of primary, secondary and tertiary industries in rural areas, fully exploring the advantages of biological, ecological, cultural and landscape resources of heritage sites, constructing the rural industrial system, adapting measures to local conditions, highlight characteristics and give play to advantages, and forming an industrial system with both market competitiveness and sustainable developing ability. Aohan Banner, firmly grasping two gilded signboards of the "Global 500 Roll of Honor for Environment Achievement" and "GIAHS" to strengthen their millet industry, gives us a successful example.
In the aspect of talent revitalization, we should pay attention to the introduction of exotic talents, and pay more attention to the training and appointment of local talents at the same time. We should focus on attracting young intellectuals back to their homeland, attach importance to the improvement of the ability of workers. There are many typical talent represents such as Jin Yuepin (a returned overseas Chinese from Qingtian County), Liu Haiqing (a graduate returned to hometown in Aohan Banner and started his millet business) and Guo Wuliu (a villager led the other villagers to become rich in Honghe County).
In the aspect of cultural revitalization, we should explore the excellent elements of traditional culture, carry forward the social integrity, and cultivate civilized local ethos, nice family style and honest folk custom, so as to make rural society more mutually beneficial and have harmonious neighborhood and civilized rural style. At the same time, use cultural resources to promote the development of multi-functional agriculture and cultural and creative industries, aiming to achieve economic and cultural development at the same time.
In the aspect of ecological revitalization, we should make scientific and rational use of natural resources, effectively protect the ecological environment and ecosystem functions, and govern together with beautifying the rural living environment. Let the ideal ecological environment become the support of rural rejuvenation. Carry out the development concept of "blue water and green mountains are golden mountains and silver mountains", and run through the ecological system protection and sustainable utilization of resources in the green development of agriculture. Finally, we could make the rural area into beautiful countryside with nice scenery and livable environment.
In the aspect of organizational revitalization, we should give full play to the positive factors of traditional social governance when establishing and perfecting grass-roots Party organizations, adhere to the governance structure of combining rule of law, rule of virtue and villagers' autonomy, and construct a new type of rural society governance system by utilizing effective rural rules and regulations.
Generally speaking, Agricultural Heritage Systems sites could be the best Demonstration Region for Rural Revitalization Strategy. It is of special significance to realize the development of rural economy, the inheritance of local culture, the harmony of rural society and the ecological health of rural areas through the implementation of the Rural Revitalization Strategy. Moreover, we could contribute China’s wisdom and to the sustainable agriculture and countryside for the world through exploring a way of economic development, ecological conservation and cultural heritage in the Agricultural Heritage Systems sites.