The Communist Party of China (CPC) issued a landmark policy document on Sunday to allow farmers to "lease their contracted farmland or transfer their land use right" to boost the scale of operation for farm production and provide funds for them to start new businesses.
The Decision on Major Issues Concerning the Advancement of Rural Reform and Development was approved by the CPC Central Committee on Oct. 12 at a plenary session.
According to the full text of the document, markets for the lease of contracted farmland and transfer of farmland use rights shall be set up and improved to allow farmers to sub-contract, lease, exchange and swap their land use rights, or joined share-holding entities with their farmland.
Economists say the reform could allow farms to better meet the demands of the evolving economy while maintaining the country's self-sufficiency.
The text did not say whether farmers must first obtain permission from their villages, but said such transactions of land-use rights must be voluntary and that farmers must receive adequate payment for their land.
The purpose of the land use also may not be changed in the process, the document said.
Such restrictions appear to address concerns regarding illegal land seizures to build factories, shopping malls and other projects that have caused anger and protests around the country, especially among farmers.