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April 3, 2020

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Expected bumper grain harvest to sustain food self-sufficiency

The Ministry of Commerce said yesterday it is a “high-probability event” that the country will see a bumper grain harvest in 2020 as ample reserves and stable agricultural production ensure self-sufficiency amid the novel coronavirus disease pandemic.

“China has seen a pretty long streak of bumper years, with inventories and reserves abundant and grain price consistently stable,” said MOC official Wang Bin.

China, the world’s top food producer and consumer saw its grain output reach a record high of 664 million tons last year, the 16th bumper year in a row, he said.

“By the end of last year, the country had inventories of more than 280 million tons of wheat, corn and rice, which will enable complete self-sufficiency as the average annual consumption of grain hovers above 200 million tons,” he said. “The international market’s impact on the country’s grain supply is minimal.”

The country’s grain imports are mainly fodder grains such as soybeans, with imported rice and wheat accounting for only 1 percent and 2 percent of the total domestic consumption, respectively, Wang said.

‘No need to worry’

“Even zero imports will not lead to a shortage of grain supply in China,” he said. “Consumers do not need to worry about the shortage or price spike of grains. They do not need to buy in bulk or hoard food at home.”

China’s grain crops have three phases: early rice, summer grain and autumn production. Autumn grain crops, which include corn and middle- and late-season rice, account for the bulk of the grain production.

An analysis by the country’s agriculture ministry points that greater early rice acreage and yield, a bumper summer grain harvest and well-planned purchases of autumn grain this year, all shows a generally sound trend of the country’s grain production this year, Wang said.

“Wholesale and retail markets around the country have enough rice, flour and edible oil, and prices remain stable,” Wang said. “Grain production and processing enterprises are resuming production with sound progress, and the sector’s production is sufficient.”

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted many countries to throttle the outflow of grains. Kyrgyzstan, for example, imposed a temporary ban on the export of certain types of food products and essential goods over COVID-19 concerns. The ban includes wheat, flour, vegetable oil and rice.

“Export bans by some countries were imposed mainly to prioritize domestic food needs and we do not expect the majority of food exporters to follow suit,” Wang said.

China has already taken multi-pronged measures to ensure stable spring farming. A special guideline on coordinating the virus control measures with spring farming preparation was issued in early March to ensure the agricultural production.

All provincial-level regions should keep their sown areas and grain output stable, on par with that registered last year.

And efforts will be made to fully implement support policies to motivate farmers to secure a bumper harvest, said the guideline issued by the leading group of the Communist Party of China Central Committee on the prevention and control of the outbreak.


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