China / Society

China rebuts remarks over food security

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-05-21 20:59

BEIJING - Chinese agricultural authorities on Wednesday fended off negative remarks made by a policy institute president over food security, saying China is able to feed itself.

"China poses no threat to world food security but will contribute quite a lot instead," said Bi Meijia, chief economist and spokesman for the Ministry of Agriculture. "We can carry our rice bowls quite safely."

The Chinese official's comments came almost three months after Lester R. Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute, raised fresh concerns over China's demand for world grain in his latest research note Who Will Feed China?

Bi said China's grain self-sufficiency rate stood above 97 percent in 2013 and cereal imports reached 14 million tonnes, accounting for less than 2.6 percent of the country's cereal output.

His comments were in contrast to Brown, who warned in February that as China imports increasing quantities of grain, it is competing directly with scores of other grain-importing countries, such as Japan, Mexico and Egypt.

Brown said China turning to the outside world for massive quantities of grain was "forcing us to recognize that we are in trouble on the food front".

Soybean remained China's primary grain imports, which rose 8.6 percent year on year to reach 63.38 million tonnes in 2013, according to customs data.

The country's grain output gained 2.1 percent year on year to hit 601.94 million tonnes, marking 10 years in a row for increased grain production, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

China's rising grain imports in recent years were mainly driven by lower offshore prices as compared to domestic grain prices, Bi said.

"As global grain prices headed down, it's in China's interests to import an appropriate amount of grain at lower prices and follow the trend of international agriculture products," he said.

The government's emphasis on and policy support to agriculture will encourage farmers to continue growing grain production, thus further consolidate the ability for the country to feed 1.3 billion people, Bi said.

Relying more on machines, science and technology for higher grain output, China is also working to upgrade its irrigation system to make its food production sustainable, he added.

China has designated permanent cropland to observe a red-line guarantee that arable land shall never shrink to less than 120 million hectares.

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