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With further Chinese reforms, opening-up policies and the enhancement of the level of market orientation, the development of agriculture and the rural economy has resulted in a stronger demand for information services. This demand has aroused the Chinese government's attention. In response, the government has formulated a series of policies and has achieved significant results in establishing rural market information systems and information services. A rural market information service network has been set up. The network covers provinces, cities, counties and most townships in the Chinese mainland and links the leading enterprises of agricultural industrialization, agro-product wholesale markets, intermediary organizations and large farmer households of business operations.

FAO gives close attention to the remarkable results in Chinese rural information services and has collaborated with the information centre of the Ministry of Agriculture to conduct case studies of rural information services in 2003. The researchers conducted field surveys in four counties, one city and one district with various economic development levels, various predominant agricultural products and different ways of disseminating information. This report highlights three information service models. It also puts forward the key points to replicate in each model and offers suggestions to further strengthen information services through both macro and micro policies. The findings have not only played constructive roles in conducting rural information services but are regarded as useful to other developing countries and regions.

However, rural information services still face a number of common difficulties in China, including human resource shortages and capacity and technological constraints, insufficient content, limited funding, low quality and an imbalance of available information services. The Chinese government has launched an e-government project and will take more effective measures to promote rural information services. We also hope to continue strengthening cooperation and exchange with the international organizations and the developing countries concerned to share experiences in information services and jointly promote the development of world agriculture and the rural economy.

Zhang Yuxiang
Director General
Department of Market and Economic Information
Ministry of Agriculture
People's Republic of China

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