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09:05 Jan 04 2011

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PM vows to improve herders' living standards
09:04, January 04, 2011  

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visits herdsmen during a two-day tour to North China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region, Jan 2, 2011. [Photo/Xinhua]

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has stressed that herdsmens' living standards should not be lowered as the nation strives to conserve the grasslands.

Wen made the remarks during a two-day tour to Xilin Gol, Inner Mongolia autonomous region, that ended Sunday.
From the beginning of this year, China is giving financial assistance to herders for their efforts to conserve grasslands and to compensate them for their losses.

China's pastoral regions are vast and have great development potential. The development of animal husbandry not only helps herders improve their living standards but also concerns cities' non-staple food supply, the Premier said.

"Periodic bans are an important step to restore the grasslands. They should be implemented gradually. Herders' living standards should not be lowered and pastoral regions' supply of beef and mutton should not be reduced during the process," he said.

Officials should visit yurts to discuss the policy with affected herders, Wen said while inside a yurt, a traditional Mongolian tent.

He called on authorities to devise policies for the sound and fast development of pastoral regions, on the basis of the new reward-compensation mechanism.

He urged local governments to make more efforts to improve grass seeds, livestock and irrigation systems, to provide vocational training for herders and to facilitate the modernization of stock breeding and pasture areas.

In 25 degrees Celsius below zero temperatures, Wen visited the heart of the Xilingol pasture to greet herders in their homes.

He also inspected commodity supplies and prices at a local supermarket before visiting seniors and orphans at local welfare houses.

Wen conveyed New Year greetings to local residents.

Wen made the trip less than two months after the Chinese government announced financial assistance for herders in eight provincial-level regions including Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang and Tibet.

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