Harvest festival helps boost farmers’ pride

The newly created harvest festival, which unfolds on Sunday, will help boost Chinese farmers’ pride in their craft by honoring some 700 million people engaged in the agricultural sector, grassroots officials said at a news conference held by the State Council Information Office on Thursday.

With the most farmers in the world, China has had an annual grain output of more than 600 million metric tons for five consecutive years, according to the central government.

But the agricultural sector and the vast rural areas have long been connected with backwardness and poverty. Most of the country’s 30 million impoverished people are scattered across such regions. China has pledged to eliminate poverty domestically by the end of 2020.

To support its rural priorities, China designated the autumn equinox, the midpoint of the season and one of the 24 solar terms in the lunar calendar, as the Chinese Farmers’ Harvest Festival.

Yang Shuangniu, Party chief of Gangdi village in Xingtai, Hebei province, said the festival is more than just a harvest celebration. It boosts farmer’s confidence and pride in what they do, he said.

“It’s the first time in Chinese history for farmers to have their own festival,” he said.

Huang Guoping, director-general of an aquaculture cooperative in Jiujiang, Jiangxi province, said more farmers are spotting opportunities they didn’t notice in the past.

“Now farmers in my area are more ready to step into various expos with their produce,” he said, adding that the festival will further boost their sense of pride and bring about more opportunities.

Dong Minfang, who quit a good-paying city job to head an agricultural machinery cooperative in a rural area in Yueyang, Hunan province, said the festival is recognition of the hard work of the 700 million Chinese in the agricultural sector.

“My friends were not supportive when I decided to go back to my rural hometown. But I’m pleased that the festival supports my decision,” she said.

Luan Tianmeng, Party chief of Arun Banner in Hulunbuir, Inner Mongolia autonomous region, said the rationale behind the festival is the central leadership’s determination to deepen reform in rural areas and elevate farmers’ economic status.

“The latest round of agricultural policies have proved effective in achieving this goal,” he said.

The festival was created after the central government prioritized rural affairs in its “No 1 central document” of 2018, the outline of policy priorities for the year. The policy statement this year features a strategy that aims to revitalize China’s vast rural regions.

More than 100 activities nationwide will be held.