(People’s Daily Online) 13:25, May 23, 2014
Lester Russell Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute, and the author of “Who Will Feed China”, recently raised the question “Can the world feed China?” once more. According to Brown, China’s food imports are increasing rapidly and its structural food shortage is becoming more serious, so China has accelerated the process of “snatching” food on world markets.
Can China feed itself? Does China “snatch” food from the international market? Bi Meijia, chief economist and spokesman of the Ministry of Agriculture expressed his views.
China’s food production can meet our demand
It is generally acknowledged that China successfully produces one quarter of the world’s food and feeds one fifth of the world’s population with only one tenth of the world’s agricultural land. In 2013, China’s food production reached 602 billion kilograms. China not only poses no threat to the world, but also contributes to the security of the world’s food supply.
By 2013, China’s food output had increased for 10 consecutive years. With a limited supply of farmland and the rising cost of production, can China continue to meet the needs of 1.3 billion people?
Bi Meijia takes the view that in future, China will continue to consolidate its agricultural base by way of the following measures: First, the government will constantly improve its support policies on agriculture, farmers, and rural areas, in order to encourage farmers to grow grain. Secondly, the contribution to agriculture of science and technology will increase. And thirdly, the construction of agricultural infrastructure will be accelerated. Presently, 51.8 percent of farmland is properly irrigated, and the comprehensive mechanization level has reached 59 percent. In addition, China will not compromise on the minimum land area devoted to agriculture, and will take effective measures to protect all areas designated as ‘permanent farmland’. As long these guidelines are respected, we can ensure the stable growth of food production.
Imports can adjust supply and demand and provide more food choices
Bi Meijia emphasized that China’s population of over one billion cannot expect to survive on imported food. In recently years, China’s food imports have increased; at the same time, its food reserves have increased too.
Why are food imports increasing? It is reasonable to take full advantage of the market. In 2013, China had a successful harvest, as did the main food-producing countries, so international food prices kept falling. China seized the opportunity to make a moderate increase in its food imports. This was a realistic choice in this globalized agricultural products market, providing additional food choices to the Chinese people.
Soybean, which is not counted as a grain in international statistics, makes up a great proportion of the food that China imports. In this context, China’s imports of other grains was only just over 14 million tons, accounting for less than 2.6 percent of the domestic grain demand, and 4 percent of the international market. So, China is not “snatching” food on the international market, far less posing a threat to other countries’ food supplies.
The article is edited and translated from《中国有能力养活自己》, source: People’s Daily, author: Feng Hua.
(Editor:Kong Defang、Gao Yinan)