In this paper, I shall try to examine and identify the factors responsible for the increase in agricultural output in Communist China in the nineteen fifties. Then I shall try to discuss the implications of my findings in relation to future agricultural growth.
Agricultural Output 1949–1957. Agricultural statistics remain the Achilles' heel in evaluating the performance of the Chinese economy in quantitative terms. For foodgrains, the official statistics show an increase of nearly 43 percent from 1949 to 1952, and nearly 20 percent from 1952 to 1957. These claims are generally regarded as exaggerated. Based on per capita consumption requirements, Liu and Yeh regard the pre-1956 official figures as gross understatements. They accept, however, the official figure for 1957. They allow for no more than 5 percent increase from 1952 to 1957 for the production of food crops. After adjustment of reported cultivated area has been made, Wu's estimate shows virtually no increase in foodgrains from 1952 to 1957. Hollister, after suggesting official understatements for earlier years, accepts the official 1955 figure and estimates that the 1957 production of basic food crops and animal products was 14 percent higher than that of 1952. Jones and Poleman also maintain that the official estimates of grain production were underestimates for 1952–54; they accept the 1955–57 figures. Their estimates put the 1957 level about 12 percent higher than that in 1952. Choh-ming Li, though without making any independent estimates of his own, regards the official figure for 1955 as more reliable or least unsatisfactory for the whole period 1949–57, while considering the pre-1955 years as underestimates and the post-1955 years (that is, 1956 and 1957) as overestimates.