Official: Massive imports not solution to China's grain problem

15:05, February 15, 2011      

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China should strive for self-sufficiency in the grain production sector, said Nie Zhenbang, head of the country's State Administration of Grain, adding that it was "unrealistic" to rely on imported grain.

"China's grain output and consumption account for more than 20 percent of global output and consumption, while world grain trade volume was less than 40 percent of China's grain consumption. With tightening supplies in the world market, therefore, it is unrealistic to rely on massive imports to address the issue of grain supply," Nie said during an interview with Ziguangge magazine.

Impacted by the heavy drought, wheat futures traded at a record high on the Zhengzhou Commodity Exchange. Drought has affected about 77,300 square kilometers, or 42.4 percent, of the total winter wheat crop area in the country's eight key producing provinces, the Ministry of Agriculture said on Feb. 9. In January, food prices climbed more than 10 percent year on year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS.)

Facing the tightening expectations of grain supply, China's National Development and Reform Commission (National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC,) the country's top economic planner, recently raised the minimum purchase prices for rice and wheat to boost production.

According to the latest data from the NBS, the consumer price index, a main gauge of inflation, rose 4.9 percent in January year on year. The figure is 0.3 percentage points higher than that of December.

China has been investing more in agricultural production and infrastructure construction and established a mechanism for the growth of agricultural subsidies and investment. The adjustment of rice and wheat purchase prices was also aimed at stabilizing the expectations of farmers, Nie said.

He also vowed to enhance control and monitoring over the food market and the implementation of the central government's policies to support the agricultural sector. The government would also focus on the cultivation of some leading enterprises in agricultural industrialization to raise the added value of agricultural products.

Last year, China witnessed rapid growth in grain imports. Data from the General Administration of Customs showed that China imported 1.6 million tons of grain in 2010, 18 times more than in 2009. Wheat import also climbed 36 percent last year.

By People's Daily Online


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