Government Helps China Feed Itself

CHINA - The government of China have declared a new initiative giving support to farmers around the country in the latest bid to meet the population's ever increasing food demand.
calendar icon 9 May 2008
clock icon 2 minute read

One of the programmes main points of interest will be in to the production of grain, which they hope will offset the rising price of livestock feed; essential when considering predicted meat consumption.

"Unprecedented" emphasis is being placed on farming, Minister of Agriculture Sun Zhengcai said in a question-and-answer statement on a government Website. Financial and policy support, coupled with technological progress, will help the country feed itself, Sun added.

China's demand for food contributed to record gains in agricultural commodities this year, Bloomberg News said. Increased domestic production may boost stockpiles of grain and reduce import needs, while helping to ease inflation that reached an 11-year high in February.

"Agricultural infrastructure is still fragile," Sun said. It's becoming increasingly difficult to achieve self-sufficiency in grains and other products, he added.

China has 226 million registered rural residents working in urban centers, buying food instead of growing it, the minister said. In the past 10 years, city dwellers' food spending rose 80 percent, stoking demand for meat and feed grains, he said.

Damage from natural disasters, higher costs, declining profits and lack of transport for grain are some of the immediate concerns, Sun said.

In the long run, consumption of grain will rise because of increased demand for food, animal feed and industrial usage, as well as population growth, Sun said.

Spending to support agriculture this year gained 85 percent from a year ago to 95 billion yuan (US$13.6 billion), Sun said.

While the world faces a possible food crisis, China has seen only "reasonable" gains in agricultural product prices, Sun said. Food stockpiles are twice the world average, and include about 40 million to 50 million tons of rice, he said.

"We have food in our hands, so no stress in our hearts."

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