Xiaogang village in Anhui Province. This is where the country's experiments with farmland rules began nearly 40 years ago.
As the year comes to an end, Xiaogang Village is undergoing some big changes.
Things have come full circle for the village that was an early test-bed for farmland ownership rules.
Now, Xiaogang Village is leading the country in introducing the splitting of farmland ownership rights, contract rights, and operating rights for local farmers. This allows more people who want to farm to do so, while letting property owners who'd rather not be farming move on to greener pastures.
"As the natural progression of industrialization becomes more advanced, a large number of rural laborors have transferred to urban areas. Natural competition is then formed -- so who can farm better, who can farm more efficiently?" said Zhang Hongyu, director of Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Economic Administration.
The practice of separating ownership and management of a piece of farmland was first adopted secretly in 1979 in Xiaogang Village. It allowed 18 households to divide communally owned farmland into individual blocks. The farmers were to then hold all responsibility for profits and losses from the land. This practice was later publicly embraced by Deng Xiaoping in the early 1980s, then widely implemented across the country.
"To be honest, it was a risk signing that contract back then, but I know I have made the right decision now," said Yan Jinchang, local resident from Xiaogang Village, Anhui Province.
38 years ago, the villagers of Xiaogang printed their names and fingerprints on this contract. Many wanted to leave and go work in the city. But someone had to stay and farm the land separating ownership from management allowed many to do so.
Fast forward to 2016, the farmers now are eager to be part of the latest reforms. Farmers now can finally have full access to farmland ownership rights, contract rights, and operating rights.
These reforms have come a long way.
"After you get your certificate, or you could call it a permit, you can easily transfer the operating rights to a third party if you wish to work in the city. And if you wish to farm your own land, now you have a sense of security with this certificate," said said Zhang Hongyu.
With this reform policy, farmers can manage their land with more confidence. The implementation not only satisfy the needs of farmers who wish to migrate to cities. It also helps meet some inevitable demands of modernization.