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Food policy director calls for agricultural innovations

By Wang Yanfei ( Updated: 2016-03-20 16:13

China should switch away from providing subsidies to farmers for grains but rather invest in technology upgrades, according to the director of the International Food Policy Research Institute.

In an exclusive interview with China Daily, Fan Shenggen said: "China has long been the major producer of wheat, corn, soybeans and rice, and the production has been way above the demand."

According to Fan, data show that investment in agriculture takes around three percent of annual GDP, where a relatively high proportion has been used for subsidies, which is 30 times more compared to that in scientific research.

"If the government is willing to invest more to improve productivity and to upgrade technology, it is expected to have a long term positive impact on agriculture’s future development, which is expected to be more sustainable and environmental friendly," Fan said.

Fan pointed out that policy changes on food production should be made coupled with the Five-Year Plan of 2016-20, during which the food consumption structure will change at a time when the country will sustain a medium to high growth.

"In the next five years, there will be a higher demand for meat and milk products," said Fan.

"The government needs to encourage more farmers who used to produce grains with shrinking demand to move to cities and turn to industries where producing food has a higher demand."

According to the Five-Year Plan, by 2020 China is expected to attain 60 percent of urbanization rate.

"In response to the concerns of the speeding up of urbanization, the industry might lead to a decrease in agricultural employment," Fan said.

"With a higher productivity, technology upgrade is able to prevent a sharp decrease in grain production and is able to meet future demands."



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