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China Should Maintain Grain Security by Boosting Domestic Production

Date:12 April 2011
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Xinhua - China's agricultural experts say domestic production of grain must continue to be raised to ensure the country is never at the mercy of grain imports.

Zhu Xinkai, an associate professor of the School of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development under Renmin University of China, told Xinhua on Sunday that agriculture would always be the core concern in China.

"A shortage of grain will undermine the foundation of our national economy, so we should never rely on grain imports for grain security of over 1.3 billion people," Zhu said.

China has increased its grain production over the last seven years to keep up with domestic demand.

Agricultural ministry data shows the country is now 100 percent self-sufficient in production of the three staple grains -- rice, wheat and corn.

However, domestic production of some other agricultural products, including soybean and mung bean, fall short of meeting demand.

Nie Zhenbang, head of the State Administration of Grain (SAG), said China should realize complete grain self-sufficiency by raising domestic production, as imports should not be relied upon given tightening supply on the international market.

The country can totally ensure grain security given ample state reserves. Furthermore, local governments are also active in replenishing grain stocks, Nie said in a statement posted on official website of SAG.

Though, the country's grain production is still very vulnerable to bad weather, due to the inability of the country's agricultural infrastructure to provide adequate resistance against droughts and other meteorological disasters.

China loses around 50 million tonnes of grain each year due to meteorological disasters, and such risks are on the rise due to global climate change, according to data from the China Meteorological Administration.

China plans to reach a grain production capacity of more than 540 million tonnes in the next five years, 8 percent more than the annual target of the 2006-2010 period, according to its 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) for National Economic and Social Development.

Chen Xiwen, director of the Office of Central Rural Work Leading Group, told Xinhua on Sunday that ensuring sufficient supply of agricultural products and stabilizing grain prices are the foundation of steady economic growth.

"We must stay sober-minded that the acreage of China's arable land has always been on the short side, so we must strive to keep total grain-growing acreage stable, strictly protect arable land and accelerate the rehabilitation of damaged land in rural areas," Zhu said.

Chen Xiwen suggested that the government should step up construction of irrigation infrastructure and intensify water-saving efforts in order to expand the acreage of effective irrigation.

By the end of last year, only 49 percent of the country's arable land received effective irrigation.

Meanwhile, improving agricultural science and technology is becoming an increasingly important factor to maintain grain security, Lin Erda, a researcher with the Institute of Environment and Sustainable Development in Agriculture under the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, told Xinhua on Sunday.

As China's arable land is limited, the country should rely on science and technology, including improving grain varieties, upgrading low-yield and medium-yield land and popularizing advanced cultivation techniques, Lin said.

China should also give full play to farmers' initiatives to grow grain and improve the capability of grain logistics, reserve and emergency supply, Lin said.

According to China's 12th Five-Year Plan, the country should accelerate the development of modern agriculture with the primary goal of ensuring grain security.
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