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April 10, 2020

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Fears about grain security groundless

Recent restrictions on grain export from certain countries will not affect the overall world grain security, let alone that in China, a number of Chinese experts said on Wednesday.

“Certain countries have restricted or banned export of wheat and rice, among other things, stoking fear that a grain crisis might grip the world again, in which China may also be affected,” said Huang Hanquan, a senior expert at the Academy of Macroeconomic Research of the National Development and Reform Commission. “The fear is misplaced,” as he made the statement in a signed article published on the online version of the People’s Daily.

On one hand, he said, those countries imposing a ban or other restrictive measures on grain export are all enjoying a sufficient supply at home at present. One the other hand, their combined export volumes are not so substantial as to significantly influence global grain trade. In China’s case, he noted, there have been grain harvests for 16 consecutive years since 2004.

Statistical evidence

In 2019, per capita grain output in China reached 474 kilograms. In addition, China has prepared ample grain reserves, with its reserve/consumption ratio far higher than the 17-18 percent benchmark set by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

For instance, OECD statistics show that China’s wheat reserve/consumption ratio increased from 47.8 percent in 1992 to 91.14 percent in 2019, said Tang Jianwei, a chief researcher from the Bank of Communications. “In particular, the wheat and rice reserves amount to one year’s volume of consumption for all Chinese people.” In his view, China has improved its grain supply through an expansion of total arable land and slower population growth, among other things.

“China has maintained a high level of self-sufficiency in three major types of grain,” said Huang Hanquan. “For example, about 98 percent of rice and wheat are self-supplied in China.”

Yuan Longping, a renowned expert on hybrid rice, said China is capable of grain self-sufficiency. Aside from promoting his high-yield crops, Yuan said there’s also hope in developing China’s saline and alkaline soil for arable use. However, he also cautioned that we should always pay great attention to grain security, and never to be light-hearted, even for a moment.

Indeed, for humans, food is heaven, as our ancestors used to say.


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