China grain output exceeds 500 million tons

Updated: 2007-12-24 08:34

BEIJING -- China's grain output, which includes rice, wheat, corn and soybean, exceeded 500 million tons this year, making it the fourth consecutive year of output increase since 2004.

The announcement by China's Minister of Agriculture Sun Zhengcai on Saturday came as the country hoped a bumper grain output would help slow current price rises.

Huge rises in food prices lifted the nation's consumer price index (CPI) to an 11-year high of 6.9 percent in November. Prices of food, which has a 33 percent weighting in CPI, soared 18.2 percent last month.

The high inflation had become a major concern of the government for fear it could worsen in the future and make the lives of poor people much more difficult.

However, Sun said the output still fell short of demand this year, without giving the exact figure for grain demand.

He said the grain supply per capita dropped from 412 kilograms in 1996 to 378 kg last year. Historically, grain output had fallen until 2004 after peaking at 512 million tons in 1998.

China was also facing great challenges in feeding its huge population of more than 1.3 billion with shrinking farmland and more farmers relocating to towns and cities.

The country would have to maintain an annual grain output of 500 million tons up to 2010 if it wanted to ensure an adequate food supply.

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