At the end of the 1970s, the reform of economic institution first started in rural areas in China. The family output related contract responsibility system was established and has aroused the farmers’ enthusiasm for getting rich through hard working and brought about a significant change to the production relations in the rural areas. Since the beginning of the 1980s, the township industries have developed rapidly and the rural economy has become unprecedented active. The specialization and commercialization of agricultural production have made the farmers more and more aware of the importance of science and technology, and hence the requirements for sciences have widely emerged in the rural areas. In March 1985, the Chinese government started the reform of scientific and technological institution in the whole country, further clarifying the policy for the development of science and technology, “Economic construction must rely on science and technology and scientific and technological workers to be oriented toward rural economy”, extend research achievements of science and technology to rural areas and help develop the rural economy. China is a large agricultural country with the rural population occupying 80% of the national total, and to solve the problems of agricultural, rural areas and farmers is needed by realizing the modernization of China and promoting the development of rural productive force. In May 1985, the Ministry of Science and Technology submitted to the State Council a suggestion to “implement a batch of scientific and technological projects of quick benefit so as to promote local economy”, in which the proverb “A single spark can start a prairie fire” was quoted, hence came the name of Spark Program, meaning that the spark of science and technology will extend over the vast rural areas of China. The Chinese government approved the implementation of this program in early 1986.
The Spark Program is the first program approved by the Chinese government to promote the development of rural economy by relying on science and technology and is an important component of plans for the national economic and scientific and technological development. The purpose of the program is to introduce advanced, appropriate technologies into the rural areas and lead the farmers to rely an science and technology in the rural areas, promote rural productivity, and expedite the sustainable, rapid and healthy development of agriculture and rural economy.