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China can help ensure food safety

(China Daily)

11:43, November 05, 2011

Yuan Longping, a leading agriculture expert, shows foreign guests the famous hybrid rice that he developed. The rice plant produces a much higher yield than other varieties. In recent years, China has strived to become capable of producing by itself all of the grain that it consumes and to increase its grain production. Zhao Zhongzhi / Xinhua

BEIJING - At a time of rapid climate change and urbanization, agricultural professionals are calling for countries to work together to ensure the safety of the world food supply.

"The demand for food has increased significantly in recent years, mainly because of population growth and advanced urbanization," said Nie Fengying, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

"At the same time, the risks to food supplies, especially those in poor areas, are becoming increasingly great, partly because of climate change and soaring prices," she said.

In 2010, more than 900 million people in the world suffered from malnutrition and hunger, up from 800 million in 1995, according to statistics from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

Since 2007, China has also been hit by a fast rise in grain prices, provoking international concerns about the greatest producer of grain in the world.

Because of high costs at the farm and the influence of international markets, grain prices in the country are expected to keep going up moderately, Chen Xiaohua, vice-minister of agriculture, said in September.

But the current price rise does not mean the country is suffering from a shortage of grain, he said.

In recent years, China has strived to become capable of producing by itself all of the grain that it consumes and to increase its grain production.

And it is moving toward its goal.

Since 2007, China has managed to produce more than 500 million tons of grain a year. This year, it is expected to have an output of more than 550 million tons, marking the eighth year in a row that its production has increased, according to statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture.

"With 9 percent of the world's arable land being used to feed 22 percent of the world population, China's achievements and contributions to world food security are recognized universally," Nie said.

The use of advanced technology has contributed greatly to the country's bumper grain harvest. At the same time, though, production is threatened by an increasing scarcity of arable land and a more frequent occurrence of natural disasters, she said.

In September, Yuan Longping, the father of hybrid rice, which produces higher yields than other strains, used his super grain to prove that 13.9 tons of rice can be grown on a single hectare.

Throughout the world, the average amount of rice that can be produced on a plot of land of the same size is 3.9 tons.

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