China to remain 95% grain self-supply

Updated: 2007-11-21 22:20

BEIJING - China, the world's most populous nation, will remain 95 percent self-sufficient in grain in the future by expanding both output and reserves, said a senior official with the National Development and Reform Commission, the country's top economic planning agency.

Fang Yan, deputy director of the Department of the Rural Economy under the commission told a conference on edible oil held in Guangzhou that domestic supply of grain was currently sufficient but would fall short of demand in the long term. He didn't clarify how long the period would be.

"As rural population moves to urban areas, fodder grain and oil-bearing crops such as soybeans are already in short supply," said Fang.

To ensure adequate supply and improve the quality of farm produce, China would boost large-scale production rather than production by scattered, small farms during the 2006-2010 period.

"China will try to increase the output of wheat and rice per unit area and expand the fields for corn planting."

"To keep up the supply of edible oil, the country will mainly develop the colza-growing areas along the Yangtze River and stabilize soybean production in the northeast."

Large production bases would be built to raise the country's production capacity of staple agricultural products, such as grain, oil, sugar, meat and milk, while grain growers and pig raisers would get financial support from the government, said Fang.

"Reserves are necessary to a big country like China," said Fang, adding that China would expand its stockpile of soybeans and edible oil, which would be helpful to curb price rises.

China has been over 95 percent self-sufficient in grain in the last 10 years and its grain security was guaranteed, with output on the rise from 2004-2006 and national reserves up 150 million tons last year, said Vice Minister of Agriculture Yin Chengjie earlier this year.

However, at the beginning of this year, the Study Times, a newspaper affiliated to the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, pointed out that China faced the possibility of a 4.8 million ton grain shortage in 2010, almost 9 percent of the country's grain consumption.

The domestic supply of grain would be insufficient for the next 15 years, making China increasingly reliant on imports and putting upward pressure on grain prices, said the newspaper.

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