China vows self-sufficiency in grain production

Updated: 2014-01-22 15:46


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BEIJING - China seeks self-reliance in staple production, including wheat and rice, following growth in domestic grain output over the past decade, a senior Chinese agricultural official said on Wednesday.

Currently, more than 97 percent of key grain supplies, including rice and wheat, come from domestic crops, said Chen Xiwen, deputy director of the Central Agricultural Work Leading Team, a top decision-making body for agriculture-related work.

"The amount of grains China imports is not heavy," Chen said, when comparing imports with domestic grain output.

Official data on grain imports in 2013, including rice, wheat and corn, have not been released, but Chen predicted a moderate increase to roughly 15 million tons, up from 13.98 million tons in 2012.

Government data showed the nation's grain output set a record high of 601.94 million tons in 2013, up 2.1 percent year on year. Around 90 percent of the grain output, or 541.75 million tons, was rice, wheat and corn, he said.

"On simple calculation, China's grain imports were less than 2.7 percent of its output," Chen said.

China's grain imports do not suggest lack of domestic supply, but rather the need for diversified grain varieties, he said. Meanwhile, the imports are partly due to more competitive rice prices in recent years from Southeast Asia due to production increases, according to Chen.

Chinese authorities on Sunday said the country will make further efforts to ensure "absolute" security of staples and maintain grain self-sufficiency.

Chen said that currently soy beans account for the majority of Chinese grain imports, but soy beans are not included as a grain in global calculations. The official also predicted an increase in corn imports to be used as feed and industrial materials in the future.