China cautiously optimistic about summer grain output

Updated: 2010-05-26 16:08
Large Medium Small

ZHENGZHOU - China's four major grain production areas have shown a cautiously optimistic attitude toward their 2010 summer grain output, after extreme weather caused havoc on agricultural production in the north and southwest of the country.

Henan, Shangdong, and Anhui provinces expect output of wheat, a major summer grain, to be equal or slightly higher than last year while Hebei Province forecasts slightly reduced output, according to a high-level agriculture meeting held earlier this month in Zhengzhou City, the capital of Henan Province.

The four provinces have 22 percent of China's arable land and produce 60 percent of the country's summer grain.

Wheat corps have been affected by persistent cold weather since winter, provincial governors said.

Statistics show the total area of wheat crops in the four provinces in 2010 increased compared to 2009.

"The growth in wheat crop area is good on the whole. We think the output of summer grain will be equal to or slightly higher than that of last year, if there is no serious natural disaster ahead of the harvest," said Guo Gengmao, governor of Henan Province, China's biggest grain-producing province.

The wheat output of Shangdong Province is estimated at 20.6 billion kg, up 0.6 percent year on year, said Jia Wanzhi, vice governor of Shandong Province.

Shao Guohe, assistant governor of Anhui Province, estimated Anhui's wheat output at 11.9 billion kg, up 1.1 percent year on year.

Heavy snow and persistent low temperatures in winter and spring have badly affected wheat corps in Hebei Province, said Hebei governor Chen Quanguo.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, China's summer grain output accounts for about a quarter of its annual food yield.

The minimum amount of grain required annually to feed China's 1.3 billion people is 500 million tonnes.

The central government last month unveiled funding plans worth more than 2.4 billion yuan (US$ 352 million) to ensure summer grain output after extreme weather threatened harvests.

China's summer grain output rose six years in a row to top 123.35 million tonnes last year, 2.6 million tonnes more than the previous year.

Grain output reached 530.8 million tonnes in 2009, the sixth consecutive year of growth in grain yield.