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Chinese Creative Agriculture: Exploring the Way Forward

www.europe1china.com Source:EUROPECHINA 2009-5-25 9:37

Author: XingLi

Along with the world`s entering creative economy, creative agriculture becomes the inevitable trend for agricultural development in the 21st century. Originated from late1990s, the concept of creative agriculture began to expand throughout the world along with the innovation and development of technology, the development of agricultural functions, and the development of sightseeing, recreation, and ecological agriculture.
Nowadays, creative agriculture has not only become the new engine for driving sustainable development of economy and society in developed countries, but also served as an important strategy for developing country to realize economic transition and great-stride development. The next round of economic growth of China will rely on the rural areas. The relatively large rural market has great potential for investment and consumption. Therefore, creative agriculture will absolutely be the first choice for China`s rising. Being limited by objective environment and various factors, Chinese creative agriculture is still exploring its way forward. As a newly rising industry, it still has a long way to go.
Agriculture + Originality=High Added Value?
At present, some creative agriculture projects happened in some places in China such as Beijing, Shanghai, Fujian, and Guangdong, and made certain achievements. For example, some place in Dalian makes full uses `three kinds of resources` including producing, living and ecological resources. In order to enhance the added value of corns, a picture of a maze is designed before plating the corn, so that when the corns grow up, the corn field become the first and the largest corn maze China. Combining with tourism of `Having Fun at a Farmhouse`, a great number of tourists both home and abroad are attracted. Shanghai Fengxian Creative Agriculture Garden developed and produced colorful and lovely small pumpkins. These pumpkins gain much higher value after being altered into artwork due to changing in appearance and color. Qixia City of Shandong Province, honored as the `capital of apples` produced creative apples with Chinese characters indicating `Luck` and `Happiness`. These apples are greatly welcomed by a large number of businessmen. The creative products have increased the added value of agricultural products and boosted the development of local agriculture and other industry to some extent. However, some experts and scholars also question that if the high added value is sustainable.
Experts in the industry say that creative agriculture still holds a small share in agriculture on the whole, but it has great developing potential. It is not mature yet. Creative agriculture in these areas hasn`t grown into a competitive creative agricultural industry.
Can the value of agricultural products be enhanced as long as agriculture combines with originality? Can `stone be turned into gold`? Experts analyzes that there are many problems in specific operation and practice of creative agriculture in China, such as the problem of small-scale production, low efficiency of agricultural production, lack of standardization, etc. On the whole, Chinese creative agriculture is still at its primary stage.
Chinese Agriculture Needs Originality
In the field of creative agriculture, the experience of European countries such as France, Holland, Britain deserves our reference. For example, one fourth of the farms in Britain are operated in the pattern of combining agriculture with tourism. Dumfries in Scotland is very good at making full use of agricultural resources to enhance the added value of agricultural products. This district has made great profit through combining its unique agricultural sceneries with other local industries.
The district has green natural environment and unique ways of producing and living of the city, the industry and the tertiary-industry. Therefore the agricultural production and operation departments think that the local characteristics have a high value of tourist resource. Driven by the great need of tourist market, the local agricultural production and operation departments develop agricultural tourism continuously. This pattern of integrating the need of urban people and agricultural production has not only satisfied the need of virescence, recreation and sustainable development of cities, but also drove diversified development of agriculture and to some extent boosted the upgrading of agricultural industry.
Jinjiang District of Chengdu City in China shares something in common with the farm tourism in Britain. Both of them focus on their unique agricultural products and gardens, and bring along the rising of several industries. Both of them enable people to enjoy the new achievements of agricultural innovation, and provide creative agriculture with enterprises that have favorable environment and atmosphere. Jingjiang District of Chengdu takes actions that suit local circumstances to promote urban-rural integration, to develop creative agricultural industry, and to boost integrated development of cultural originality and recreation tourist industry. Jinjiang District successfully created `Five Golden Flowers` including Flower Town Farmhouse and Happy Plum Woods. Jinjiang District has successfully set a model for creative pattern of `Having Fun at a Farmhouse`. However, compared with Britain, its degree of urban-rural integration and intensification is much lower.
It is said that a kind of creative agriculture in the pattern of `urban farming garden` in Europe and Japan is highly valued, because farming and gardening there is suitable for all groups of people such as adults, seniors, children and the sick. Nowadays, it has become the favorite entertainment and recreation method of urban people in the developed countries. Its operation mode is to lease the land in outskirts to urban people for them to plant vegetables, melons and fruits, as well as flowers and trees or operate family farming art. Through farming in person, urban citizens can enjoy the fun of going back to the land and the nature, obtain safe and fresh food at the same time, and strengthen unity and communication between family members. At present, some places in China like Beijing and Ningxia have also put forward this kind of urban farming garden. Wang Minhui, the deputy director of Shanghai Academy of Social Science Sector Economic Research Institute Regional Research Center, states that there are many new patterns of agricultural development all over the world at present, but there are no fixed patterns. All patterns are created according to local resources and culture. China should establish industry group focusing on core elements of rural area and agricultural resources there, promote overall added value of agricultural products, and facilitate construction of new villages by integrating culture with various living resources in rural areas.
How should Chinese agriculture be creative?
Facing the new economic growth point of creative agriculture, how should China strengthen its advantage and take part in international competition? Zhang Jigang, a Chinese expert on creative agriculture, thinks that creative agriculture is a new type of agricultural production method which is market-oriented, agricultural production-dependent, originality-centered, intellectual property-based, and agricultural enterprise-focused. It instructs people to connect the steps before, during and after the production into a complete industry chain, integrates agricultural products with cultural and artistic originality, constructs creative villages and creative farmhouses, and cultivate creative farmers through creative production, creative ecology and creative life. In this way the aim of optimizing resource distribution, creating higher added value, promoting agricultural efficiency, and increasing farmers` income can be realized.
Experts highlight that creative agriculture development must avoid repeated construction and blindly `copy`. What matters is originality. Take Henan Province for example, Henan is a large agricultural province, which has demonstrative effect in boosting new village construction process. Henan Province can act as the experimental province to regulate modern agriculture. `Second development` can be conducted on the original basis of its natural agricultural production. Its industry upgrading can be finished through integration with other industries such as culture and tourism. This will be not only beneficial for developing the function of agricultural production development ecology, but also able to maintain sustainable development of agriculture.
Li Wuwei, the Vice-Chairman of Chinese People`s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), reveals that `Double-Innovation` Strategy, that is, emphasizing both technological innovation and cultural innovation, is the new thinking of developing creative agriculture and new pattern for constructing multilayer production chain and value system.



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