Chinese officials, many of whom are expected to lose their jobs in an ambitious effort to pare down the government, are being encouraged to try their hand at farming instead.

A county in eastern Jiangxi province is winning praise because nearly one-fifth of its government officials have resigned to go into agriculture, the state-run Xinhua News Agency said in a report Monday.Under a reform plan passed in March by the National People's Congress, the country's bureaucracy will be halved to reduce costs and adapt it to the needs of a market economy.

China spends nearly half its annual revenues on salaries for more than 30 million officials.