Photographer: Akio Kon/Bloomberg

China Pledges to Keep Grain Output Stable, Not Rely on Imports

  • Country vows to improve grain pricing and stockpiling system
  • Overseas soybean purchases climbed 14% last year to a record

China, the world’s biggest user of rice and wheat, plans to keep grain production stable through 2020 and, while it will import some grain, the country won’t rely on foreign purchases for supplies, Agriculture Minister Han Changfu told reporters before the annual legislature meeting in Beijing.

The country vows to improve mechanisms for grains pricing and enhance its stockpiling system, and expects grains output to exceed 550 million metric tons in 2016. China has about 1.4 billion mouths to feed and President Xi Jinping has singled out increasing agricultural output as among the country’s priorities.

Xi has urged the nation to take the lead in developing genetically modified crops and the recent purchase of Syngenta AG by China National Chemical Corp. will help expand the amount of food produced per hectare. Syngenta is the largest pesticide maker and a producer of yield-boosting GM crops. The country is assessing reforms to its state corn purchase and reserve program, the government said in January.

China has become the world’s largest importer of soybeans and purchases rose 14 percent to a record last year, customs data show. Inbound rice shipments climbed 31 percent and corn purchases were up 82 percent, they show. The country imports most of the soybeans it consumes, while rice and corn only represent about 2 percent of domestic usage, U.S. government data show.

— With assistance by Wenwen Zhang, and Shuqin Ding

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