Public support has dramatically strengthened food availability with increasing yields.
Photo: Zhu Ling
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In 1978, the rural reform began in China, and since then farmers, including the poor ones, have benefited from a steady growth in income and gradually strengthened food security. This article explains how China achieved food security in the past three decades, how the reform process has affected poverty reduction and what aims are established to deal with extreme poverty and child malnutrition for the period of 2011–2020.

In 1976, when China was still under the planned economy, the nationwide average annual per capita income in the People’s Communes (the agricultural collectives) amounted to 60.2 Yuan, which was lower than that of 1956 at constant prices. At that time, more than one third of farmers’ households were in debt, and about 100 million farming people suffered from a shortage of food. By 1978, China was no longer self-sufficient in grain and had to rely on imports to supply 40 per cent of the urban population.
Farmers created a responsibility system with an output contract for the work groups in 1978 and developed it into a household contract system in 1981. The initiative of the farmers was given a positive response by top-level leadership, and eventually, it led to the abolition of the People’s Communes. The following principle measures in the reform programme were implemented during the 1980s:

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