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Sideline Production

In addition to improving the principal yield of agricultural units, the post-Mao economic reforms greatly stimulated sideline production in rural areas. Before 1984 sideline production generated by production brigades, production teams, and households included hunting, fishing, collecting wild herbs, and producing family handicrafts, as well as various kinds of industry, commerce, transportation, and services. Sideline industrial output included fertilizer, farm machinery, textiles, bricks, electrical appliances, and various consumer goods. Sideline industrial activities also included processing cotton, grain, and oilseeds; mining coal, iron ore, and gold; and dredging gravel and sand. Among the services included in sideline output were barbering, entertainment, and catering. As part of the sideline economy, rural entities transported people and goods and operated retail stores; rural construction groups built dams, factory sites, roads, and houses. Of all kinds of sideline production, the state counted only the industrial output of enterprises operated by counties and communes in its total industrial output.

Output rose so rapidly that by 1985 the value of production generated in sidelines exceeded the value of principal crop and livestock production. To make the gross value of agricultural output more realistically represent agricultural production, statisticians in 1985 limited sideline production to hunting and fishing, collecting wild herbs, and producing family handicrafts. After 1985, therefore, there were at least three aggregate measures of economic performance: gross value of output; gross value of agricultural output (crops, livestock, forestry, aquatic, and sideline); and gross value of rural society, which included the gross value of agricultural output plus the value of rural industrial, transportation, construction, and other output (see Rural Industry , ch. 7).

Data as of July 1987