China / Society

Expert council formed to advise on food security, grain glut

By Xu Wei ( Updated: 2016-05-31 16:52

China has established a council of experts on national food security as the government seeks intellectual support from think tanks to reduce the massive grain surplus and further reform the pricing of staple foods.

The council, which includes 28 members from local grain authorities, State-owned grain companies and universities, will advise on major challenges faced with the country's grain production and circulation, said Ren Zhengxiao, head of the State Administration of Grain, at a news conference on Tuesday.

"The country's food security situation will remain complicated in the long term, and new challenges will continue to surface in the near future," he said, adding that just because China's grain reserve stands at a historic high does not mean its food security is guaranteed in the long term.

Chen Xiwen, deputy head of the Office of Central Rural Work Leading Group, will serve as an adviser to the council, which was established as the country is facing a massive grain surplus and a large price gap between domestic and foreign produce.

Zhang Xiaoqiang, former deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission and chairman of the council, said the grain surplus has posed an unprecedented challenge to the country's food policy, which requires expert counsel.

Another function of the council will be to research global grain policy and increase China's say in the making of global food policies.

In late March the central government announced that it would scrap its grain stockpiling scheme and allow markets to set prices for the staple food.

The huge size of the grain reserve, estimated at 250 million metric tons for corn alone, has also posed severe challenges to the State grain reserve. The United States Department of Agriculture said in a report in April that more than 20 million tons of corn reserves in China are so moldy or deteriorated that they are no longer fit for consumption.

Zhang said the huge grain reserve has also resulted in large storage costs, as one kilogram of grain costs about 0.24 yuan ($0.04) to store per year.

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