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 1973: All-Round Rich Harvests in China


1973: All-Round Rich Harvests in China

Rich harvests were reaped in 1973 in China, with grain, cotton, bast fibre, sugar crops and tobacco the best in history.


   Total grain output last year outstripped the 250 million tons of 1971, an increase higher than the average annual increase since the founding of the People's Republic of China. The best grain harvest in history was gathered in 16 of the 29 provinces (exclusive of Taiwan Province), municipalities and autonomous regions. More than 600 counties and cities brought in per-unit yields over large areas that reached or bettered targets set down in the National Programme of Agricultural Development (N.P.A.D.)*.
   Provinces and municipalities which had better yields than N.P.A.D. figures for several years running made bigger advances in 1973. Per-hectare yield of grain in east China's Chekiang Province again topped 7.5 tons. Peking's rural people's communes brought in 30 per cent more grain than in 1972, while 48 production brigades and 538 production teams on Shanghai's outskirts reaped on the average more than 15 tons per hectare.
   Hopei, Shantung and Honan Provinces and northern parts of Kiangsu and Anhwei Provinces which for a long time in the past never grew enough to meet their own needs have become self-sufficient in the last few years. Further advances were made last year. Almost one-half of the counties and cities of Hopei attained 3.75 tons per hectare, six of them surpassing 6 tons per hectare. The 40 counties in the Heilungkang region in this province in the old days used to be plagued by natural disasters and short of grain. From 1953 to 1966 the state diverted 4.35 million tons of grain to this area. A big change has been effected since the taming of the unruly, destructive Haiho River which flows through the area. Last year it grew all the grain it needed and even provided 50,000 tons of marketable grain for the state. One-third of the counties and cities of Honan last year attained the N.P.A.D. per-unit target for the region. Since 1967 when Honan began to grow enough grain for its own use, the province has been supplying vast quantities 01 grain to the state each year. More than 40 counties and cities of Shantung Province reached the N.P.A.D. target for the region last year. The northern parts of Kiangsu and Anhwei Provinces last year also increased grain output by a wide margin. The fact that these places which in the past had depended on the state to send in grain from other places to meet their needs are now self-sufficient and providing large quantities of grain to the state is of great political and economic significance to the country.
   Grain production in the frontier regions of Heilung-kiang, Inner Mongolia, Sinkiang and Tibet in 1973 was also very much higher than in 1972.


   China's 1973 cotton crop was more than 20 per cent bigger than 1972.
   Area under cotton was about the same as in 1972 but higher per-unit yields made for a larger total. The cotton harvest in Honan, Shantung and Shen-si Provinces, north China's main producers, was up 50,000 tons compared to 1972. Per-hectare yield in Kiangsu Province, the biggest cotton-producer in the south, topped the N.P.A.D. figure.
   Once calamity-stricken areas giving low cotton yields have made considerable headway. The special administrative region of Fuyang in Anhwei Province had in 1973 a per-hectare yield that was 40 per cent better than 1972's and its total output was over 70 per cent higher than in 1972.
   More than 130 counties in China attained N.P.A.D. targets, over twice the 1972 number.
   A good harvest of oil-bearing crops was reaped in 1973. The afforested area was enlarged and fodder for draught animals and pigs was much more plentiful than in previous years.  There were large catches of fish.

Beating Natural Disasters

   China's rich 1973 harvests were won after overcoming serious natural disasters in spring and were the result of the guidance of Chairman Mao's proletarian revolutionary line and the further raising of the political consciousness of the cadres and commune members under the impetus of the movement to criticize Lin Piao and rectify the style of work, the deepening of the mass movement "In agriculture, learn from Ta-chai" in the countryside and the large-scale construction of water conservancy projects on the farmland.
   From the winter of 1972 to early summer in 1973 drought gripped north China while excessive rain fell in some places in the south. The people of Hopei. Shansi and Shensi Provinces in north China made the maximum use of existing irrigation facilities to the drought and at the same time carried water by hand to the fields to water the sown seeds in order that they all germinated. This ensured a bumper harvest in autumn. Of the 24,000 hectares planted in spring in Shansi's Hsiyang County, 14,600 hectares were watered by carrying water to the fields. Hsiyang brought in a bumper harvest through the combined efforts of the people of the whole county which broke the back of the 17-month drought beginning in 1972. The county's total grain output last year was 1,400 tons more than that of 1971, the highest in its history.
   Taking China's pace-setter in agriculture, the Tachai Production Brigade, as their example, the whole countryside last year relied on the strength of the collective economy and carried out extensive water conservancy projects, built up a number of stable, high-yielding fields and improved production conditions which led to bumper harvests. Since the winter of 1972 more than 3.33 million hectares of fields were levelled, 12.6 million were deep ploughed and 1.32 million hectares terraced or improved. According to statistics for 14 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions of north China, between October 1972 and September 1973, 1.4 million hectares of land were brought under irrigation through sinking more power-operated wells. Last year witnessed the fastest development and most effective use of deep wells in the country's history.
   More vigorous developments were seen last year in the movement for scientific agricultural experiments by the masses in the rural areas. The acreage planted to improved strains of paddy-rice and wheat was greatly expanded and the area of hybrid maize was five times greater than before the start of the Cultural Revolution. Big achievements were also attained in tapping soil potential, improving cultivation practice and multiple-cropping.
   The whole Party, all regions and all departments in China implemented the general principle of "taking agriculture as the foundation and industry as the leading factor" for developing the national economy, gave priority to agriculture, correctly handled the relationship between agriculture, light industry and heavy industry. Party committees at all levels provided stronger leadership to agriculture, with many provinces, special administrative regions and counties sending large numbers of cadres to work with the commune members as they directed production. More funds, agricultural material and equipment required by the countryside were provided by the state than in any previous year. Industrial goods for the rural areas rose considerably, of which chemical fertilizer rose by 20 per cent, pesticides 11.9 per cent, tractors 17 per cent and walking-tractors by more than 22 per cent.

* The National Programme of Agricultural Development is a programme for the swift development of agricultural productive forces to strengthen China's socialist industrialisation and raise the living standard of the peasants and the entire people. It is an overall plan to consolidate the rural collective economy, boost agricultural output, develop forestry, animal husbandry, side-line occupations and fisheries, build water conservancy projects and develop rural transport, communications, post and telegraph, culture, education and improve health work in the countryside. As China is a vast country in which natural conditions vary enormously between regions, the Programme has set down per-unit area production targets for grain and cotton in different regions.
 For grain, the target is 3 tons per hectare for areas north of the Yellow River. Chingling Range, Pailungkiang and areas north of the Yellow River in Chinghai Province. For areas south of the Yellow River and north of the Huai River it is 3.75 tons per hectare. South of the Hual River, the Chingling Range and the Pailungkiang, 6 tons per hectare.
 For cotton (ginned), the targets are 300, 450, 600 and 750 kgs. per hectare for the different regions.

Source: Peking Review. No. 1, January 4, 1974
Transcribed for www.wengewang.org
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