JINAN/HARBIN, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) -- As hundreds of millions of farmers celebrated their harvest festival on Monday, China expects a bumper harvest of crops from rice to corn and soybeans during the major harvest season.
In recent days, farmers nationwide have marked the festival with dances, songs, cultural shows, poverty reduction activities and rural tourism promotions, celebrating their upcoming autumn harvest.
China has attached great importance to food security. President Xi Jinping has on many occasions stressed food security, saying that "the rice bowl of the Chinese people, in any situation, must be firmly held in our own hands."
The Chinese farmers' harvest festival falls on the Autumn Equinox each year.
"It is set to be a good harvest despite a moderate drought," said Wang Cuifen, 52, who runs a large-scale farm in the city of Gaomi, east China's Shandong Province, a major grain producer. She reaped a bumper harvest of wheat in summer and is to harvest 200 hectares of corn in the coming days.
The festival, along with many other measures, showed the government's increasing focus on agriculture, particularly food security, she said.
China's modernization requires agricultural and rural modernization, to which science and technology as well as talent are the key, Xi said when replying to a letter from Party secretaries, presidents and experts of over 50 agricultural colleges in early September.
Large machinery and technology have been promoted in China to revolutionize agriculture and improve production.
"It used to entail hard labor, but now it's all about high-tech. All the plowing, sowing, management and harvesting are now done by machinery," said Wang, who began to rent farmland from others to plant fruit and crops in 1997. "We use drones to spray pesticides and autonomous walking sprinklers for irrigation. This was unimaginable not so long ago."
Large-scale farming has been on the rise in Shandong, said Liu Tongli, a former provincial agricultural official. "With the use of technology, the farming work is becoming much easier and many farmers even leave their land to be cared for by professional agricultural service agencies."
Soybean farmers are embracing the harvesting season as China increases soybean plantations to increase self-reliance.
"We will start harvesting in a few days and a good harvest is expected," said Hou Wenlin, head of an agricultural cooperative in the city of Heihe in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province. The cooperative grew 300 hectares of soybeans this year.
Hou said his yield is expected to exceed 2.25 tonnes per hectare this year from 1.5 tonnes per hectare years ago. "It is mainly because of technology. Agricultural experts helped us select high-yielding varieties and taught us field management and soil improvement."
Heilongjiang, China's largest soybean-producing province, has expanded its soybean plantations by 666,700 hectares to 4.27 million hectares this year while cutting corn plantations.
On Tuesday, President Xi signed a presidential decree to award "father of hybrid rice" Yuan Longping, along with seven others, the Medal of the Republic, for his contribution to the country's food security and the world's grain supply.
Yuan, who developed the world's first hybrid rice in 1974, has set multiple world records in the hybrid rice yield. In 2018, he and his team set a new world record in super hybrid rice output, achieving an average yield of 1,203.36 kilograms of rice per mu (about 0.07 hectares) of test fields.
Every year since 2004, the "No. 1 central document," the first policy statement released by central authorities, has been related to agricultural and rural development, highlighting the importance the government places on the agricultural sector.
More irrigation and technology support, large-scale farming and government policies are among a number of factors behind bumper harvests in recent years. This ensures the country feeds around 20 percent of the world's population with less than 9 percent of the world's arable land.
Between 1949 and 2018, China's annual grain output rose by nearly five times from 113 million tonnes to 658 million tonnes.