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People's Daily Online>>China Business

Corn imports set to grow despite harvest

By Chen Yang (Global Times)

08:06, April 19, 2012

Corn will surpass rice to become the country's largest grain crop in terms of output this year, a Chinese think tank forecast yesterday, but analysts still expect a surge of corn imports this year due to rapidly growing domestic demand.

China's grain output, which includes rice, wheat and corn, is likely to grow for the ninth consecutive year in 2012 and exceed 580 million tons in 2012, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) said in a report.

Last year, the country's grain output reached 571 million tons, figures from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed.

"Considering the continuous price rise of grain, along with the government's increasing support and subsidies for farmers, we believe there is a possibility of a ninth consecutive year of grain output growth," Zhu Gang, a researcher with the rural development institute of CASS, said at the release of the report yesterday.

"The growth in China's corn output is mainly due to the increasing cultivation area," Zhang Zhixian, a researcher at cngrain.com, a Zhengzhou-based grain portal, said yesterday.

"Many farmers in Heilongjiang Province who used to grow soybeans have turned to growing corn, because of its high returns and government policy support," he said.

Zhu said corn prices would remain high this year due to surging demand for it for livestock feed and producing ethanol.

"The growth of grain output will ensure the country's food safety and relieve inflationary pressure," Ma Wenfeng, a senior analyst at Beijing Orient Agribusiness Consultant, said yesterday.

However, industry experts said imports of grain, especially corn, would continue to grow even though a harvest is expected soon.

"The growth in grain output still can't keep up with the rapidly growing domestic demand, so China will continue to face a tight grain supply and increase in imports," Guo Wei, a researcher with the Research Office of the State Council, said yesterday.

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