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HomeAsiaInsight into China’s Food Priorities for 2024 – The Diplomat

Insight into China’s Food Priorities for 2024 – The Diplomat

For decades, safeguarding food security has been a critical priority for China’s central government. Beijing has sought to strengthen its focus on food security through increased agricultural production and diversification of imports, and President Xi Jinping’s recent comments signal continued concerns at the top about China’s food security. Following the approval of the New Grain Security Law last month and ahead of the release of the No. 1 Policy Document (the country’s rural blueprint), there are already several hints regarding what the Chinese central authorities could prioritize in terms of food security for this year and beyond, based on the recently convened the Central Rural Work Conference in Beijing in December 2023. President Xi’s Role in Promoting Domestic Food Security and Related Policies The continued role of Xi, China’s “core leader,” in promoting efforts to safeguard food security should not go unnoticed. In 2021, he emphasized that China’s challenges and risks should be addressed with the country’s strategic needs in mind while also calling for more robust measures to guarantee stable agricultural production and supply and steady growth in both the industry and in rural areas. “The food of the Chinese people must be made by and remain in the hands of the Chinese,” he was quoted as saying by state broadcaster China Central Television. Xi has also called for efforts to safeguard grain acreage and protect farmland to encourage domestic production. While highlighting the necessity of ensuring food security, in 2022, Xi provided reassurances to the public and international community that China will not face imminent risk of grain shortages. The Chinese government publicly pointed to the country’s bumper grain harvests and massive grain reserve systems. Although China has not released details regarding its stockpiles, officials from the country’s National Food and Strategic Reserves Administration noted that the supply in the domestic grain market is “fully guaranteed,” while grain reserves are at a “historical high level.” Most recently, in his 2023 New Year Address, Xi declared, “Despite a global food crisis, we have secured a bumper harvest for the 19th year in a row, putting us in a stronger position to ensure the food supply of the Chinese people.” Maintaining Grain Production and Grain Security The importance of grain production and supply was reaffirmed at the 2023 Central Rural Work Conference. Emphasis was placed on ensuring the stability of grain production as well increasing grain output per unit and also implementing mechanisms between major grain producing provinces and those in need of grain supply. By doing so, Beijing expects grain output for 2024 to remain above 650 million metric tons. Beijing’s continued focus on grain security reflects its food security priorities. Grain security, an integral part of safeguarding China’s food security, has been the government’s main concern in the past several decades. Indeed, the word for “food security” (粮食安全) literally translates as “grain security” in Chinese. Until the mid-1990s, the Chinese central government’s overarching goal was to achieve complete self-sufficiency in grain. However, given China’s arable land and water constraints alongside increasing food demand, the grain self-sufficiency target level since 1996 has been reduced to 95 percent or higher. To encourage the domestic production of grains, Beijing has put forward various policies and plans to support farmers and the modernization of farming in China. Since 2003, the Chinese government has implemented a policy of “four reductions and four subsidies” to encourage grain production, while various taxes (such as an agricultural tax and livestock tax) have been removed. Furthermore, China has also undertaken enormous political and fiscal efforts alongside spatio-temporal changes in the country’s grain production patterns to strengthen its grain production. And these efforts have, to&nbsp.

Undertaken enormous political and fiscal efforts alongside. Data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization shows that corn and soybean yields in China are about half of those of many exporting countries in the Americas, which have relatively high yields per hectare. When it comes to corn, for instance, the largest corn harvest in 2019 in the United States was 2.58 metric tons per mu, whereas Chinese yields only reached 1.66 tons per mu. Given that seeds are the source of the food supply and the backbone of agriculture, establishing seed security has become a somewhat sensitive issue. The implications of Xi’s new emphasis on food security and seed security transcend beyond domestic agriculture to impact global trade, food prices, and supply chain vulnerabilities. The current emphasis on seed security is symptomatic of broader Chinese preferences for self-sufficiency and protectionism. With the importance of agricultural security in China being elevated to an unprecedented level, seed security is among the top priorities. Seeds are considered a weak link by the Chinese central government due to China’s reliance on international seed companies. Moreover, growing certain agricultural products can be much more expensive in China than in other countries like the United States; the yields can be much lower too. Data from the United Nations&nbsp. Read More
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