BEIJING, Jan. 26 -- Bumper harvests for the last ten years and the government's perennial stance on guaranteeing ample grain for the people, have made scarcity a stranger to Chinese dinner tables.
In the face of urbanization and industrialization with their constant appetites for more and more land, authorities have ringfenced at least 1.8 billion mu (120 million hectares) of arable land for farming, which, so far, has been enough to feed one fifth of the world's population.
Rice and wheat are the Chinese favorites. Against all odds,self-sufficiency of the staples has stayed around 97 percent of home supplies and less than 3 percent of imports.
For more than a decade, the emphasis has been on farming and this year, top significance has been given to food security.
China hopes to ensure the "absolute security" of key staples while striving for near self-sufficiency in grain. That will be no mean feat for a nation of 1.3 billion but per capita arable land of less than half the world's average, combined with numerous environmental woes such as floods, droughts and earthquakes.
Behind the years of agricultural achievement, authorities have constantly prepared for underlying risks and warned of complacency, as grain production is increasingly afflicted by strained supplies of farmland and water. Soil pollution, food wastage, and dwindling enthusiasm for farming all ring alarm bells.
Under this internal pressure and in the context of globalization, authorities are refining strategies and meeting people's new demands for more choice that improved lifestyles have brought.
For now, imports of staples are low. The majority of food imports are soy beans, a major source of edible oil, tofu, and animal feed.
Ensuring that domestic supplies remain dominant and more active use of imports will enhance food security, while showing the world the way.
One pressing issue is agricultural development and how to make it sustainable. Much is expected. The government's overall policy on agriculture explicitly seeks such solutions. The government is well aware that secure bottom lines will ensure self-sufficiency and will take more concrete measures to improve the rural land system and rural governance while providing more financial support to farmers.
Persistence has shown that agricultural development seeking better grain security is a path we can trust.