Under a policy first unveiled in Central Policy Document No. 1 in 2016, local governments in the pilot areas are required to "support and guide farmers to transfer [land] rights in accordance with the law and with compensation," the ministry of agriculture said in an Aug. 27 directive published on its website. "Some counties, cities and districts in Shanghai, Shandong, Ningxia, Hubei and other provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities [are being authorized] to carry out pilot projects for the withdrawal of contracted rural land," the directive said. "Whether the pilot experience in those areas can be rolled out on a larger scale requires in-depth research," it said.
Jiangsu-based commentator Zhang Jianping said the "household responsibility" system, which typically signed leases of 30 years with farming families, was brought in by late supreme leader Deng Xiaoping in 1978, to enable farmers to sell off excess produce at local markets, for a profit.