BEIJING - China has called upon its energy companies to ensure fertilizer producers get ample supplies of natural gas for the spring planting season, to avert shortages as demand grows for foodstuffs including grain and meat.
China National Petroleum Corp, China Petrochemical Corp and CNOOC Ltd are barred from selling gas to other customers until they fill farm-related orders, the National Development and Reform Commission said on Sunday in a statement.
An employee from Sinopec fills the tank of a piece of farming equipment. The government has prioritized energy supplies for agriculture to ensure a sufficient harvest. [Photo/China Daily]
China's farms face pressure in the coming years to supply the nation's food needs, Shanghai Securities News reported on Jan 28, citing Chen Xiaohua, a vice-minister of agriculture.
In the next five years, annual demand for grains is expected to grow by 4 million tons, vegetable oils by 800,000 tons and meat by 1 million tons, Chen was cited as saying.
Ensuring enough fertilizer for crops is a "precondition for the grain harvest" and "essential for stabilizing the prices of agricultural products and managing inflation," the commission said.
Gains in food prices accounted for almost three-quarters of China's 3.3 percent increase in consumer prices last year, Chen Xiwen, deputy director of the Central Leading Group on Rural Work, said at a news conference on Sunday, according to a transcript on the government website.
Drought has hit 5.16 million hectares of wheat-growing land in China, almost 60 percent of that in the eastern provinces of Henan and Shandong, Water Resources Minister Chen Lei said on Sunday at the news conference.
The drought may continue until at least April, China National Radio reported on Jan 29.
Henan and Shandong provinces accounted for 45 percent of China's 112 million tons of wheat in the 2008-2009 marketing year, according to data from the State-affiliated China National Grain & Oils Information Center.
China hopes to plant 24.3 million hectares of wheat for the 2010-2011 season, the center forecast.
China will accelerate development of water conservation, aiming to double annual investment in the field during the next 10 years, according to a State Council statement released Sunday via the Xinhua News Agency.