By Bloomberg News
China rolled out a roadmap to boost crop production in the world’s most populous nation, highlighting concerns over food security after the country imported record amounts of meat, corn and soybeans last year.
Measures include creating agricultural belts devoted to large-scale farming and providing sufficient subsidies to motivate grain farmers, according to the latest five-year plan that sets out key economic and political goals through 2025.
Food security is moving to the top of the government’s agenda after the coronavirus pandemic and outbreaks of African swine fever raised concerns over whether China could guarantee food supplies for its 1.4 billion people. Imports of meat and grains surged last year, driving global prices higher and stoking worries over food inflation.
“Ensuring that our people have enough food remains a top priority for our government,” Premier Li Keqiang said in his work report to the National People’s Congress on Friday. “Seeds and cropland are crucial for safeguarding China’s food security.”
The nation will maintain grains output at more than 650 million tons annually, a target it has exceeded in the past six years. The goal takes into account domestic demand, production capacity and changes in the international market. It will also develop “high-quality” farmland that provides consistent yields regardless of drought or excessive rains.
Among other priorities from the five-year plan:
- Implement the “strictest possible system” to protect farmland, support crop production on idle land, keep total acreage stable, and increase yield per unit area
- Raise the minimum purchase prices for wheat and rice, while fine-tuning policies on subsides for corn and soybean producers
- Increase land area for corn cultivation, keep production of soybeans stable, support production of canola, peanut and other oil crops, and ensure the amount of land devoted to growing cotton and sugar crops remains stable
- Continue to boost the recovery of hog production, while also increasing beef and mutton output
- Diversify imports of major agricultural products, accelerate development of multinational agricultural businesses and develop overseas supply chains for grains and other products
- Intensify research on core agricultural technologies, including seeds, to boost yields amid limited farmland
- Ensure absolute security of staple food supplies and basic self-sufficiency in cereals