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China Agriculture May Not Be Sustainable, Cabinet Official Says

Dec. 9 (Bloomberg) -- China’s grain production capability may not be sustainable even as output increased for seven years, an agricultural official at the State Council said.

A growing amount of China’s grain is produced in northern regions where water shortages are worse, Chen Xiwen, the Cabinet’s vice director of agricultural affairs, wrote in an article for the Caijing magazine, an excerpt of which was posted on the website of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences today.

China’s consumption of agricultural products has exceeded production because soybean imports continue to rise, while the country also buys vegetable oil, Chen wrote. Using domestic production, China keeps only a “tightening balance” in rice, “basically” meets its corn demand and gets a small surplus of wheat, he said.

The amount of agricultural products China imports would require more than 600 million mu (40 million hectares) of overseas arable land, which China doesn’t have, Chen said. This dependency on imports has made it difficult for the government to maintain controls on domestic food prices, Chen wrote.

China’s grain output this year may increase by 10 million tons from a year ago to over 540 million tons, Chen said.

To contact the reporter on this story: William Bi in Beijing at wbi@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Poole at jpoole4@bloomberg.net

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