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Official: China can feed its own people
By Cao Desheng (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-05-19 22:48

Chinese officials say they are addressing the nation's food issues internally and have the capacity to ensure the nation's food security.

Niu Dun, director general of Department of International Co-operation under Ministry of Agriculture, expressed confidence in the steady growth of national grain production in the next few years during an interview with China Daily.

He made the remarks at the Senior Officers Meeting of the 27th Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific which closed in Beijing Wednesday.

Niu based his confidence on the country's preferential policies on the development of the agriculture sector as well as market stimulus policies.

Several such efforts have been implemented to boost grain production, including exemptions of agricultural taxes, direct subsidies for farmers in major grain producing areas and an overall opening of the grain market, Niu said.

In addition,promotion of agricultural technology and strict measures have been undertaken to protect farmland, he said. "All these measures will help enhance farmers' grain production and help keep steady farm produce growth," Niu said.

Since last October, grain prices have increased with some produce surging,contributing to farmers' confidence in grain production, according to Niu.

Grain production in the country had suffered a five-year decline and aroused serious domestic and international concerns over food security for the world's most-populated country.

Last year saw the lowest level of grain production in the country since 1998. The grain totals were 431 million tons, a 15,7 per cent drop from 1996, and 5.8 per cent down from 2002.

Agricultural development is the State's first priority in overall social development and has consistently fed 1.3 billion people on its own, said Chinese President Hu Jintao at the opening ceremony of Ministers Meeting of the 27th FAO Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific Wednesday.

The nation hopes to promote dialogue with Asia-Pacific countries in agriculture and make contributions to the alleviation of global hunger, Hu said.

Besides increasing grain production, China hopes to raise its annual farm produce exports to US$30 billion in four or five years, according to Vice-Minister of Commerce Yu Guangzhou.

The government expects the export of farm produce to reach US$40 billion in 2013, Yu told a recent seminar.

The government is working with relevant institutes on a strategy to expand farm produce exports, he said.

The Ministry of Commerce plans to set up a special fund for promoting farm produce export, funding agriculture enterprises to improve farm produce quality monitoring system and obtain international certificates of food safety, he said.

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