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People's Daily Online>>China Business

Feeding China

By Jin Zhu  (China Daily)

10:02, December 04, 2011

China's autumn harvest surpassed expectations this year, despite a constant battle with droughts, floods and pests. China Daily agriculture reporter Jin Zhu looks at how the world's most populous country makes sure it has enough to eat, and enough to help feed the world.

China's total output for grain this year hit a record high of 571 million tons, making it the eighth consecutive year production has exceeded forecast. More than 70 percent of this increase is expected to come from Northeast China, due to unusually favorable weather conditions, according to the Ministry of Agriculture. But agricultural experts are warning that the fat years may not continue, especially if grain production is too concentrated in the northern arable lands.

"Good weather does not occur every year. When and if natural disasters hit these major crop-producing areas, the impact will be great," Lu Bu, a researcher in agricultural resources and regional planning at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) told China Daily.

Even as China battles more frequent floods, droughts and pestilence brought about by climate change, the world's attention is focused on how this vast country manages to stay self-sufficient in grain. And it has succeeded, despite the doomsayers, and despite the natural disadvantages.

For instance, by August, prolonged drought had affected more than 4.5 million hectares of crops, of which 71 percent were concentrated in Guizhou, Hunan, Yunnan and Inner Mongolia autonomous region, ministry statistics show.

Li Maosong, a CAAS researcher on disaster reduction, tells China Daily that drought is responsible for more grain loss than any other natural disaster.

"Nearly 60 percent of grain loss is caused by drought. The other main causes are floods, plant diseases and insects," he says.

Another area of growing concern is the serious increase in pests in recent years. According to the Ministry, total arable land hit by diseases and insects is expected to reach 402 million hectares, a result of global warming and the catastrophic drought this year.

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