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Reducing grain loss

(China Daily)

08:08, August 09, 2012

China loses about 25 million tons of grains, nearly 5 percent of its agricultural output, a year because of poor storage. It means that produce from 6.6 million hectares of land is lost even before reaching the market. This is shocking.

If storage facilities and processing technologies can be upgraded to reduce the grain loss rate to, say, 3 percent of output, the average in developed countries, China could save about 10 million tons of grains a year. In other words, it would be an increase of about 2.7 million hectares of arable land, considering that per hectare output is 3,700 kilograms.

In a country with nearly one-fifth of the world's population and requiring a minimum of 120 million hectares of arable land to ensure food security, reducing the loss of grains is as important as protecting arable land.

That's why the ministries of agriculture and finance jointly issued a document saying the central government has allocated 500 million yuan ($78.5 million) in special funds to subsidize the upgrade of agricultural products' processing projects.

More than 50 percent of the grain produced in China is kept by rural households or grain storage cooperatives, which need help to upgrade their technology.

The subsidy is good news for villagers because less loss of grain means greater efficiency in agricultural production and higher incomes for them.

However, the efficient use of this money depends on designing an efficient mechanism, which should include experts' technology guidance to build quality and modern granaries and grain processing facilities. It also depends on tight control on and supervision of the entire process, which will ensure that villagers and cooperatives benefit from the project.

Transparency is of utmost importance. The expenditure on each head, as well as the quality and technological level of the storage and processing facilities should be publicized for public supervision.

Also, regular investigations need to be conducted to see how the facilities work and how the beneficiaries respond. Only then can similar projects be implemented in a more effective way.

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